Six weeks on, no sign of missing cartoonist

March 11, 2010

Where’s Prageeth Eknaligoda?  On Jan. 24, the Sri Lankan cartoonist and journalist disappeared shortly after leaving work at the Lanka-e-News office.  Local residents reported seeing a white van without number plates close to his house around this time.  When his wife tried to lodge a complaint with the police the next day, she was detained for several hours at the police station.  In the days leading up to his disappearance, Mr. Eknaligoda had told a close friend that he believed he was being followed.

Prageeth Eknaligoda had previously been abducted last August by a group who also arrived in a white van; that time, he was released the following day.  White vans have been used in many abductions and enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, particularly since 2006, when the security forces or allied paramilitary groups stepped up attacks on government critics.  Prageeth Eknaligoda had been actively reporting on the Sri Lankan presidential election, which took place on Jan. 26.  Shortly before his disappearance, he had completed a comparative analysis of the two main candidates, coming out in favor of the opposition candidate, Sarath Fonseka (who lost in the election, which saw President Rajapaksa re-elected).

His wife, Sandhya Eknaligoda, believes he was abducted by the government because of his criticism of President Rajapaksa.

Please write the Sri Lankan government and ask that his disappearance be promptly investigated and those responsible held accountable.  Thanks.