Sri Lanka deports British journalist

[TamilNet, Friday, 17 April 2009, 19:59 GMT]
Jeremy Page, reporter for the British paper, The Times, was escorted to the detention room on arrival at the Katunayake International Airport last week, locked up for the night, and deported to the UK the next day, says Page in an article in Timesonline. He was denied a journalist's visa for Sri Lanka since August despite multiple applications, and he was identified and deported when he tried to enter Sri Lanka on a tourist visa. "I know why I'm blacklisted: the Government [of Sri Lanka] thinks, or pretends to think, that I support the Tigers. That is nonsense. I have no personal connection to either side of this 26-year civil war," writes Page.

"For almost two years, the Government has prevented most independent reporters from getting anywhere near the fighting, taking only a hand-picked few on day trips arranged by the army since January," Page says on the censorship of free media in Sri Lanka.

Comparing the danger local journalists face in Sri Lanka to what he experienced in other parts of the world where he has covered violent conflicts, Page writes, "I regularly interview members of the Taleban in Afghanistan. In Russia, I reported on both sides of the Chechen conflict. In China, I interviewed dissidents and Tibetan independence activists. To do the equivalent in Sri Lanka, however, is not only forbidden: it is highly dangerous if you are a local reporter."

Page cites two specific articles which he thinks might have irked the Government of Sri Lanka.

In a February 13, 2009 piece on "Barbed wire villages raise fears of refugee concentration camps" he said the Government denounced him in a news conference for seeking the reaction from "representatives of the Tamil community (and one MEP with an interest in Sri Lanka), several of whom likened the plans to concentration camps."

Page adds, "[b]ut the most surreal response came in a letter from Rajiva Wijesinha, the head of the Government's Peace Secretariat, who accused me of sensationalising the use of barbed wire in the camps. "Unfortunately, a man from a cold climate does not realize that, in the sub-continent, barbed wire is the most common material to establish secure boundaries, to permit ventilation as well as views," Mr Wjesinghe wrote, Page says.

The second story that may have angered Colombo, Page cites, is January 17, 2009 "Lasantha Wickrematunga - Sri Lanka's hero editor," the Sri Lanka's Sunday Leader editor who was murdered in January.

"He left behind a partly-written obituary in which he accused the Government of assassinating him because of his criticism of the war. The Government denies this, but has yet to catch those who murdered him? or the 14 other media workers killed in Sri Lanka since 2006," Page writes.

External Links:
Timeonline: Lasantha Wickrematunga - Sri Lanka's hero editor
Timesonline: Barbed wire villages raise fears of refugee concentration camps
Timeonline: How I was barred from reporting Tamil Tiger conflict


Latest 15 Reports
02.07.20 22:26  
Colombo imposes restrictions on Tamil valour related symbolism in schools of North
01.07.20 13:22  
New secret unit among four SL military and police squads competing to arrest Tamil youth in North
30.06.20 22:10  
Tamils blocked from accessing properties near SL Navy training base in Champoor, Trincomalee
29.06.20 23:29   Photo
Moragoda advising Gotabaya prompts Sinhala parties to scrap Provincial Councils
28.06.20 22:06  
India privileging BRIC/RIC over Quad ‘discordant’, says former US top diplomat
27.06.20 22:11  
Indo-Pacific expert wants US to seek opportunities in ‘Sri Lanka’
26.06.20 21:24  
Russia steps up influence on New Delhi to uphold “multilateralism” against US “rules-based order”
25.06.20 23:53  
Pompeo talks about US reposturing troops, mentions India, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia
24.06.20 23:36   Photo
Devananda circumvents court order, manipulates Jaffna fishers to allow poachers from South
23.06.20 22:03  
Sinhala encroachment of pastureland continues unabated in Batticaloa
22.06.20 18:17  
SLMC Chairman: Time for joint Tamil-Muslim efforts
21.06.20 23:11   Photo
Ex-councillor: Poverty-stricken Tamils at receiving end of SL military brutality in North
20.06.20 23:53   Photo
Tamil man killed, Sinhala Army opens fire at motorbike rider at Mukamaalai in North
19.06.20 23:30  
Dr Amir Ali: SL Archaeology aims to obliterate Tamil traces, shrink territory of Muslims in East
18.06.20 21:02  
Colombo steps up surveillance harassment on organisations operating in East
Find this article at: