At FORUM-ASIA, we employ a range of strategies to effectively achieve our goals and create a lasting impact.

Through a diverse array of approaches, FORUM-ASIA is dedicated to achieving our objectives and leaving a lasting imprint on human rights advocacy.

Who we work with

Our interventions are meticulously crafted and ready to enact tangible change, addressing pressing issues and empowering communities.

Each statements, letters, and publications are meticulously tailored, poised to transform challenges into opportunities, and to empower communities towards sustainable progress.

Multimedia Stories

With a firm commitment to turning ideas into action, FORUM-ASIA strives to create lasting change that leaves a positive legacy for future generations.

Explore our dedicated sub-sites to witness firsthand how FORUM-ASIA turns ideas into action, striving to create a legacy of lasting positive change for future generations.

Subscribe our monthly e-newsletter

World Press Freedom Day: Sri Lanka Media Under Threat

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Sri Lanka is the most dangerous place in Asia for journalists. The government of Sri Lanka must protect its media workers, actively investigate crimes against journalists and stop criminalizing dissent.
On World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2007, FORUM-ASIA stands in solidarity with media workers that risk their lives to expose human rights abuses and strive to provide fair, democratic media coverage. Sri Lankan media workers are facing a particularly debilitating situation as it is the most dangerous place for media workers in Asia. FORUM-ASIA calls on the government of Sri Lanka to protect media workers and foster an environment that allows space for dissent and to stop interfering in the existence of a free media.

World Press Freedom Day 2007 will be especially poignant for civil society in Sri Lanka after a 25 year old journalist was slain while he was collecting news near a military checkpoint, 29 April 2007. Selvarajah Rajeewarnam was the second journalist to be killed in a government-controlled area in fourteen days. The newspaper that Rajeewarnam worked for, Uthayan, had three of their employees killed last year alone. In these and most other cases of media worker homicides in the country, the perpetrators have not been brought to justice.

In Sri Lanka, 2006 was one of the worst years on record for threats, intimidations and physical assaults on journalists. Tamil media workers are extremely vulnerable; last year alone, two dozen were threatened, seriously assaulted, “disappeared” or killed. Over the course of the year, the space for democratic media and civil society has been rapidly decreasing. Journalists are consistently maligned as terrorists if they attempt to present dissenting opinions.

Government interference in the media is becoming commonplace. In a recent appalling example, the editor for the Daily Mirror, Champika Liyanarachchi, reportedly received phone threats from Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, warning her to not be surprised if she found herself in physical danger where no security from the government would be available. He also took liberty to threaten to “exterminate” a staff journalist for an article on the plight of displaced people in the east.

After the Prevention of Terrorist Act (PTA) was reinstated in December of last year, dozens of people have been detained without charge, including numerous journalists. On 26 February 2007, a media executive from the Sri Lankan Maubima newspaper was arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division. The newspaper is known for bringing attention to human rights violations in the country. Also, the bank accounts of the Maubima and The Weekend Standard were sealed by the government on the grounds that they had been acting in violation of national security.

Threats to media workers and the impeding of free journalism are part of a wider context of violence toward civilians and mass human rights violations in Sri Lanka. A free media is a meter by which the functioning of democratic systems can be gauged. The people of Sri Lanka are enduring a faltering system that encourages impunity, abuses fundamental rights and witnesses the decrease in space for civil society.

The government of Sri Lanka must protect its media workers, actively investigate crimes against journalists and  stop criminalizing dissent. It must respect its commitment to UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and take the opportunity of World Press Freedom Day to pay its due to all those who risk their lives for a free and fair media.


Anselmo Lee
Executive Director

For more information please contact Anselmo Lee, Executive Director, + 66 2391 8801 email: [email protected]; Nicole Girard, Sri Lanka Programme, + 66 2391 8801 email: [email protected]