Marking Black January:The Sri Lankan media’s cry for justice
The word ‘Freedom’ seems to be illusive. It is definitely relative.
And now, ‘Black January’ has come upon us. Journalists of Sri Lanka commemorate it year after year, just as the country’s citizenry celebrate independence, or their illusion of freedom.
Ten journalists were murdered between 2000 and 2009. Aiyathurai Nadesan, Bala Nadarajah Iyer, Dharmeratnam Sivaram, Lasantha Wickrametunge, Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, Paranirupasingham Devakumar, Relangi Selvarajah, Selvarajah Rajeewarnam, Subash Chandraboas and Subramaniyam Sugitharajah.
Then there are dozens of others- according to the President of the Sri Lanka Chapter of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) Lakshman Gunasekara, nearly 70 journalists were killed during the past 35 years and many others maimed and injured. Some, lucky enough to have left the country heeding warnings of the threat against them still live in exile.
Reminding the relevant authorities and the public, in a bid to demand justice and to end impunity for crimes against journalists and media organisations, a number of peaceful protests were held in different parts of the country during January.
Spearheaded by the Free Media Movement (FMM), members of the Working Journalists’ Association (WJA); Media Workers Trade Union Collective (MWTUC); Sri Lanka Young Journalists’ Association (SLYJA); Tamil Media Collective (TMC); Muslim Media Collective (MMC); Online Media Activists’ Collective (OMAC); and the Media Movement for Democracy (MMD) participated in these events. It is the ninth protest since the FMM started it in 2011.