Anniversary Action for Abducted Columnist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda
PEN International is appalled that one year after the disappearance of Sri Lankan journalist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, there is still no news of his whereabouts or fate and that his abductors remain at large. Ekanaliyagoda was abducted on January 24, 2010, and has not been heard from since. No thorough and credible investigation into his case has been made and his wife has received no response to her repeated requests for information about her husband’s fate. PEN fears that pro-government forces may be responsible for his disappearance. PEN expresses renewed concerns that journalists and writers in Sri Lanka continue to be targeted with apparent impunity for their dissenting views, and urges the authorities to take immediate action to ensure all crimes against journalists, including Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, are vigorously investigated and those responsible brought to justice. It also urges that the Sri Lankan authorities abide by their obligations to the international treaties protecting free expression, in particular Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
According to PEN’s information, Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, political analyst, journalist, and visual designer for the Lanka eNews, disappeared on January 24, 2010, and his whereabouts remain unknown. He was last seen leaving his office on that evening, and there are fears that he was targeted by pro-government forces for his open support of the opposition during Sri Lanka’s 2010 presidential elections. Government sources have denied the allegation. Ekanaliyagoda is a leading columnist, and reportedly published articles in support of the opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka ahead of the Sri Lankan presidential elections that took place on January 26, 2010. The Lanka eNews was reportedly blocked during the elections, and its offices were searched by unidentified individuals on January 28, 2010.
Previously, on August 27, 2009, Ekanaliyagoda had been abducted and held blindfolded overnight, and was released after being told that he was not the correct target. Family and colleagues have expressed increasing concern that the authorities have done very little to investigate Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda’s disappearance, and they fear for his safety.
Journalists, writers, and media outlets commonly suffer intimidation and violence in Sri Lanka, a situation that has continued in spite of commitments to protect freedom of expression by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After 25 years of conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers, victory over the Tigers was declared by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 16, 2009. Rajapaksa went on to win a landslide victory in the presidential elections of January 26, 2010. However, the outcome was rejected by many, including his main opposition rival and former army chief General Sarath Fonseka. General Fonseka was arrested on February 8, 2010, on charges of conspiracy, and convicted several months later. In April 2010, Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition won an overwhelming majority in parliamentary elections. Later in the year, members of Parliament passed a constitutional amendment allowing President Rajapaksa to stand for unlimited terms in office. Since the end of the war the state of free expression in Sri Lanka is widely believed to have deteriorated, with increased state control enabling a "culture of terror" to flourish in the country, which has resulted in widespread self-censorship and the fleeing of many journalists.
Write A Letter
- Expressing dismay that one year after the abduction of journalist Pregeeth Ekanaliyagoda, his whereabouts are still unknown and there has been no credible investigation into his case;
- Expressing renewed concern for the safety of journalists and writers in Sri Lanka, and calling on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect those who are being targeted with apparent impunity solely for their critical writings, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Email: [email protected]
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General's Department
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
630 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Email: [email protected]
Fax: (212) 986-1838
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after February 15, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org