Five media organizations in Sri Lanka are “shocked and outraged” by unofficial reports of the imminent arrest of Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Mr. J.C. Weliamuna.
The organizations are: Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA), Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMFF) & Federation of Media Employee Trade Union (FMEPU).
The release states:
“We are shocked and outraged by the unofficial reports of imminent arrest of Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), Mr. J.C. Weliamuna.
“If these reports are true, we vehemently oppose such a move and stand by Mr. Welamuna. In a statement issued on 09 March 2010 Asian Human Rights Commission said that “there is a move to arrest and detain J.C. Weliamuna of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) on fabricated charges. During the last few weeks there have been several media attempts on the part of the government to make insinuations against the Sri Lankan branch of Transparency International.”
“TISL is a committed institution that works towards building corruption free Sri Lanka. It has won the credibility for its activities aimed at strengthening democracy and good governance in Sri Lanka. During the last decade TISL has monitored the abuse of state resources during the elections and campaigned against the colossal misuse of public resources in the hands of ruling politicians during the elections by publishing those reports. Corruption is a cancer in all spheres of Sri Lanka’s life including social, political and economic fields. TISL was actively engaged in all these fields in combating corruption.
It is no secret that there are forces and powerful individuals within the country who do not welcome such a course of action. We believe that whatever the pretext used to harass and arrest Mr. Weliamuna, the aim of such a move is to discredit the anti-corruption drive and to intimidate organizations and individuals spearheading such programmes. These are the activities that the government should organize and encourage instead of discouraging them by intimidation and harassment.
“We note that .Mr. Weliamuna is one of the leading human rights lawyers in the country and his residence came under a grenade attack in the early hours of 08 September 2008. So far the police have not produced any report on the attack.
“We request the government to stop the intimidation and misinformation campaign on Mr. Weliamuna and TISL and to disclose the truth behind the reports of the imminent arrest of Mr. Weliamuna.”