Aug 18, Colombo: Seven media organizations of Sri Lanka today protested against the Army's call for media personnel, who covered the military attack on protesters at Weliweriya on August 01, to appear before an inquiry panel.
The military crackdown on the unarmed civilians in Weliweriya staging a protest to demand the government to provide them with clean water resulted in three deaths, two of them are teenage students, and injured scores of people including several journalists.
The media organizations issuing a statement argued that the government is wasting time without conducting a proper investigation and summoning media persons before a military investigation panel was a seriously illegal and undemocratic measure that is part of the militarization of the society.
The statement accused that the government and military were trying to mislead the society pointing to a third party allegedly accused of triggering the violence.
Pointing out that media personnel have been summoned to an internal military tribunal through a summon issued with the signature of Major General N.J.C. Dias, the media organizations questioned under what law the summons are issued to media persons.
The Army Court of Inquiry appointed by the Army Commander Lieutenant General Daya Rathnayake has issued summons to the media personnel to appear before the panel to record their statements on the clash where the Army is accused of firing at the people.
The Court of Inquiry has reportedly asked the journalists to report to the Commando Regiment at the Ganemulla camp at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association, Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Federation, Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists' Association, South Asian Free Media Association, Free Media Movement and Media Movement for Democracy were the signatories of the statement.
It has been reported that earlier Army personnel have visited the residents in Weliweriya area and asked them to report to the Ganemulla camp to record their statements. However, the residents have objected to the military directive and complained to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Sunday Times reported.
The Army Commander has later issued an order that the civilians could give their statements at any police station.