I heard some very disturbing news last night. Dileesha Abeysundera, a Sri Lankan journalist and media rights activist, is in danger. Several unidentified people traveling in white vans tried to break into her compound in Colombo (Sri Lanka’s capital city) at 11:45 P.M. on Sept. 28. While they didn’t succeed and Dileesha wasn’t harmed, I’m very worried for her. The use of white vans was particularly chilling; they’ve been used in many abductions and enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka since 2006.
Dileesha had organized a meeting on Sept. 28 calling for the abolition of the Press Council Act, a law which restricts freedom of expression in Sri Lanka by prohibiting publication of materials relating to economic policy, government documents and other topics. The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly defended the Act. It’s thought that she was threatened that evening because of her work in organizing the meeting that day.
Over 14 media workers have been killed since 2006 with no one brought to justice in any of these cases. For more information on how freedom of expression has been under attack in Sri Lanka, please see our report, “Sri Lanka: Silencing dissent.”
Please write to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka and ask him to ensure Dileesha’s safety and to investigate the attempted intimidation of her. Please also ask him to investigate the attacks, including killings, of other Sri Lankan journalists and media workers. His address is: Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka; email: [email protected]. Thanks for your consideration.