From South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) network
The members of South Asians for Human Rights vehemently condemn the attack on Lasantha Wickrematunge, Chief Editor of the Sunday Leader, who succumbed to his injuries in hospital today. His is the latest in the long list of media personnel who have lost their lives in the pursuit of a truly free media environment in Sri Lanka. This however, was not the first time he was targeted, as he has faced many threats against his life, with even the Sunday Leader office coming under attack on previous occasions.
Mr. Wickrematunge was attacked early Thursday morning by four armed men dressed in black and wearing black helmets on motorcycles had blocked his vehicle and opened fire, hitting him in the neck and chest, leaving him critically injured. The shooting took place in broad daylight at the bakery junction in Attidiya which is close to Ratmalana military base.
This brutal killing of an out spoken and veteran journalist comes in the wake of yet another attack on MTV/MBC transmission station where a gang of 20 armed men with T-56 rifles and explosives destroyed the main control room and caused extensive damage estimated at around 200 million. SAHR notes with dismay and concern the many other previous attacks on media personnel, and the pathetic attempts or the mere show of an inquiry and investigation by the state; which to this date have not brought a single person to book in connection with these cases. This only goes to show the level of impunity prevalent in the country.
SAHR demands that an independent unbiased investigation be carried out, and that the perpetrators are brought to justice to face a fair trial. SAHR also underlines the responsibilities of a truly democratic state, to protect media freedom and preserve freedom of speech.
I K Gujral