Death threats for two Sri Lankan journalists

October 28, 2009

Freedom of expression is again under assault in Sri Lanka.  On October 22, two editors at the Sunday Leader (a Sri Lankan newspaper), Frederica Jansz and Munza Mushataq, received identical death threats in the mail, handwritten in red ink.  Ms. Jansz is the editor-in-chief and Ms. Mushataq is the news editor.  The threats relate to coverage by the paper of a video which allegedly showed Sri Lankan soldiers executing Tamil prisoners.

The paper’s founder and former editor-in-chief, Lasantha Wickrematunge, was killed last January after receiving a similar death threat three weeks earlier.  No one has yet been prosecuted for his murder.

Last month, Dileesha Abeysundera, who works for the Sinhala-language edition of the Sunday Leader, was threatened.  The newspaper has suffered numerous serious attacks on its staff and offices in the past. 

Over the past three years, numerous journalists have been detained in Sri Lanka while others have fled the country.  At least 14 media workers have been killed.  Investigations haven’t resulted in  prosecutions.  For more on this issue, see the AI report, “Sri Lanka:  Silencing dissent.”

Amnesty International has issued an urgent action appeal calling on the Sri Lankan government to ensure the safety of Frederica Jansz and Munza Mushataq, and to investigate the death threats received by them and the attacks on other Sri Lankan journalists and media workers.  Please take action in response to our appeal and write to President Mahinda Rajapaksa (email:  [email protected]).   Thanks for your help.