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Senior journalist assaulted in Lanka

world Updated: Jun 01, 2009 23:33 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A senior journalist was assaulted and a respected Colombo-based civil society group critical of government polices received a threat letter on Monday, indicating that harsh times were to continue for dissenting opinion in Sri Lanka.

The secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association (SLWJA) Poddala Jayantha was kidnapped by unidentified miscreants Monday afternoon. Jayantha was severely beaten up by his abductors before being dumped on a road near his homed.

He was admitted to a hospital with leg injuries. Poddala works with the Lake House group of papers owned by the government.

This is the latest in the series of attacks on journalists in Colombo.

Earlier in the day, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) received the letter in Sinhala by post on Monday morning, with a header that said ``notice to deshadrohis’’ or traitors.

It repeatedly said the organisation and those involved with it were under constant watch and alleged that it was conspiring with the international community to destabilise the country.

``We know that you have got furious of this marvelous victory of our motherland. And also we know about the conspiracies you engage in, even at the moment, in alliance with the International (community),’’ the letter said.

It demanded that CPA observe the ``honouring the warriors’’ week, which is commencing on Wednesday, by hoisting the Lankan flag and keeping its offices closed.

"Furthermore, you should certainly stop all the programmes conducted by your institute which are detrimental to the sovereignty, unitary nature, and dignity of this country,’’ the letter said.

The CPA, which is fighting a few high profile cases against the government in the Supreme Court, is not the first to get threats from unidentified quarters for being critical of the government. Several journalists have been killed, kidnapped and thrashed for criticising government policies. There are organisations like the University Teacher for Human Rights (Jaffna) – which was critical of the LTTE as well – that now function from outside the country. A handful of journalists and columnists continue to live in other countries. The murder of an editor in January is yet to be worked out.

The threat letter to CPA ended on an ominous note. ``We are carefully watching your course of action in the future as well,’’ it said.