Eknelygoda, a political reporter and cartoonist for Lanka eNews, disappeared on the night of January 24, two days before the presidential elections that gave the incumbent president a sweeping victory that will keep him power for six more years.
“The media under Rajapaksa have been under tremendous
pressure,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s
Sandhya Eknelygoda told CPJ she last saw her husband when he left for work around 7:30 a.m. on the morning of January 24. Since then, repeated visits to police stations, appeals to members of parliament, and personal requests to Rajapaksa and other members of his government have been met with silence. (Sandhya Eknelygoda’s wife wrote an entry for the CPJ Blog about her husband’s case. A slide show of his cartoons can be seen here.)
With no answers forthcoming from the government, Sandhya Eknelygoda
says she will start organizing prayer vigils at temples across the country. The
first will be at the Kaali Amma Kovil Hindu temple in
In a report released in May, In Sri Lanka, no peace dividend for press, CPJ highlighted Eknelygoda’s case, noting that even with the end of Sri Lanka’s war with Tamil rebels, repression of independent media has not eased, and journalists still face violence, harassment, and detention.
CPJ reported extensively on attacks on journalists in its
special report Sri
Lanka: Failure to Investigate and recently ranked
CPJ’s Journalists Assistance program counts more than 40 Sri Lankan journalists living outside of the country who left out of fear for their safety.