Sri Lanka editors receive death threats for Channel-4 video comments

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 27 October 2009, 03:26 GMT]

Sunday Leader, a weekend broadsheet in Sri Lanka, said in the latest edition that two of the paper’s editors, Frederica Jansz, and Munza Mushtaq, received Thursday “hand written death threats by post.” The threats relate to Sunday Leader news stories on the authenticity of the August Channel-4 video which showed armed Sri Lankan soldiers executing Tamil prisoners stripped naked and hands tied behind their backs.

“This newspaper has consistently in the entire 15 years of its existence come under attack. We have been burnt, bombed, sealed, harassed and threatened, culminating in January this year with the brutal killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge,” the paper said.

“The police must treat these death threats written in red ink with the utmost seriousness, especially as they were sent to two journalists whose press group has repeatedly been the target of physical violence,” media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in a press release. “We urge the police to track down and arrest those who wrote these letters,” RSF further said in its press release.

Despite Ms. Jansz’s statement in her September interview to al Jazeera that “Channel 4 UK should never have aired the controversial video unless and until it had checked the authenticity of the images,” the web page of the Media Centre for National Security carried a slanderous article refuting certain statements made to al Jazeera by Ms. Jansz in relation to the infamous Channel 4 video. The article went so far as to even carry terminology such as “prostituting and prostitute,” the paper said.

The Sunday Leader last week on October 18, carried a front page news item which said that in a controversial turn of events, a United States company specializing in forensic services has in a preliminary report maintained that no tampering or editing was carried out in either the video or audio portions of the controversial Channel 4 video clip which showed a man in Sri Lankan military uniform executing civilians. Our story merely reported extracts from the report as well as quoted Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who we spoke to in relation to its contents, the paper wrote.

Ms. Mushtaq’s report said that Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), is purportedly carrying out an independent investigations through a yet undisclosed forensic company in the U.S., and published interim conclusions from the report.

TAG officials when contacted by TamilNet said that “Sunday Leader story is entirely accurate,” and while refusing to disclose the name of the forensic company which the officials said “is also conducting actual firing range tests to observe the timings and acoustic signature comparisons,” added that “within the next 3 to 4 weeks, the final technical report, including the interim report that was leaked by the Leader, will be made public.”

The reference to the Channel-4 video in the U.S. State Department’s report last week on Sri Lanka’s conduct of war has further drawn attention to the importance of an independent third party to conduct forensic analysis of the video to establish its authenticity, the official said.

source : http://tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=30517

also read two more relevant articles at

http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU2009102813759&lang=e

http://cpj.org/2009/10/death-threats-sent-to-paper-of-slain-editor-in-sri.php 

there’s another one from Reporters Sans Froniere at

http://www.rsf.org/New-threats-to-privately-owned.html 

But I’m gonna fool the title of “Private-owned media…”, which is just unproper. The issue here is not relevant with an ownership of the media, rather but independence and freedom of expression.

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