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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Eknelygoda disappearance devastates Sri Lankan family

Sandhya Eknelygoda and sons Sanjay and Harith. (CPJ)

Prageeth Eknelygoda has been missing since January 24 of this year. He was a political cartoonist and columnist for Lanka eNews, a website whose editor, Sandaruwan Senadheera, was forced into exile. In Sri Lanka's highly partisan media climate, Lanka eNews backed the wrong presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka, who not only lost but was jailed on politicized fraud charges. 

December 27, 2010 3:34 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Eknelygoda's wife wonders if husband is 'no more'

Prageeth Eknelygoda’s wife, Sandhya, at left, has been in close contact with CPJ since his disappearance on the night of January 24, just two days before the hotly contested Sri Lankan presidential elections. She was a primary source for our May investigative report, In Sri Lanka, no peace dividend for press. As we noted in our alert today, she has started to organize prayer vigils at Hindu and Buddhist temples and Christian churches around the country, trying to pressure the government into helping her locate her husband. Although they have had no word from him, she and her two sons, 16 and 13, are convinced Eknelygoda, below, is still alive.

July 23, 2010 3:50 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Cartoons by Prageeth Eknelygoda of Sri Lanka

Before he disappeared on January 24, Prageeth Eknelygoda was a journalist, columnist, and cartoonist. Here are some examples of his cartoons from a show at Colombo's Lionel Wendt Gallery in May. His wife, Sandhya, has given us permission to use them.

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July 23, 2010 3:30 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

An indicator of what comes next for Sri Lanka's media

In Sri Lanka, there is a lull of sorts in outright attacks on the media as the Rajapaksa government takes stock of where it stands, which is in a very strong position: Last May the government declared a final victory in the brutal 30-year conflict with Tamil secessionists. In January, President Mahinda Rajapksa won a convincing victory in the presidential elections, and in April, his United Peoples Freedom Alliance took 144 seats of the 225 member seats in parliamentary elections, with a chance to build a political coalition that will give him the two-thirds majority he needs to begin rewriting the constitution.

April 28, 2010 5:39 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

Is Sri Lanka done assaulting the media?

It was good to hear Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa point out in his Independence Day speech on Thursday that the country “cannot be developed with harassment, gross punishments or by the gun.” But the sentence that followed that—“Discipline is not revenge”—gives cause for concern. Rajapaksa’s speech marked the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain. It was delivered in Kandy, the heartland of the president’s electoral base.

February 5, 2010 3:58 PM ET

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Blog   |   Sri Lanka

After election, will Sri Lanka improve press record?

Sri Lanka’s Department of Elections today declared incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa the winner of the presidential election with almost 58 percent of the vote. The situation is still tense as his opponent, former Gen. Sarath Fonseka, threatens a lawsuit to challenge the entire process, from voter access to irregularities in computer counting, to name just two aspects. Fonseka remains sequestered in the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel in Colombo, where he and his political allies gathered as the results were tallied. Some Sri Lankan media say Fonseka is claiming there is a plot to assassinate him. Soon after he announced the results of the voting, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake said he wanted to resign. He told reporters he is no longer able to bear the pressure imposed by various parties.

January 27, 2010 1:40 PM ET

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Blog   |   Benin, Sri Lanka

Will impunity in media attacks ever end in Sri Lanka?

A drawing of Wickramatunga in the lobby of The Sunday Leader. (CPJ)On Tuesday, I revisited three cases CPJ had investigated last year, dating from January 2009: the attack on Sirasa TV; the murder of newspaper editor Lasanatha Wickramatunga, and the violent attack on another editor, Upali Tennakoon and his wife, Dhammika. Last year's report was called Failure to Investigate. Today, I'll take a look at the implications of the government's failure to bring any of them to prosecution as the country moves toward presidential elections on January 26.

Court documents recently revealed that a coroner's report found that Wickramatunga's death was "caused not due to gunshot injuries, but injuries caused to his head with a sharp weapon." Iron bars, wooden poles, pistols, silenced or not, what's the difference? There is one.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

One freed, but what about the others silenced in Sri Lanka?

With Monday’s release  of J. S. Tissainayagam on bail, maybe things are looking up for the media in Sri Lanka. CPJ welcomed Tissainayagam’s release from a sentence of 20 years' “rigorous imprisonment,” but called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to extend him a full pardon, as it is within his presidential powers to do. For now, at least, Tissa, as he is known, is out of his prison cell though not free to leave the country—the appeal court that set him free demanded that he hand over his passport as part of the bail agreement. But there are many other cases still hanging in the air in Sri Lanka that will not go away, even though they are making their way through the courts.

Blog   |   Sri Lanka

One year later in Sri Lanka, little has changed

Lasantha Wickramatunga

Even by Sri Lanka’s standards, January 2009 was a brutal month for journalists.

On January 6, on a quiet road on the outskirts of Colombo, the country’s main independently owned TV station, Sirasa TV, was raided at 2:05 a.m. by 15 to 20 masked armed men working with military precision. At 2:35:31 they detonated an explosion, possibly a claymore mine, a military-style antipersonnel mine set off by an electrical charge through wires leading to the device.

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