Army accused of intimidation

Media rights groups have accused the army of intimidating journalists by asking them to report to a military camp to record statements on the Weliweriya incident.

A joint statement by seven media organizations including the Free media Movement (FMM), said they are disturbed by the recent summoning of journalists by the army to a military camp in Ganemulla, purportedly to obtain their statements over the Weliweriya incident, where the security forces had been accused of killing three civilians and wounding several others.

The joint statement said that the summons signed by Major General N.J.C.Dias and delivered to several media organizations had instructed journalists to be present at a military camp in order to obtain their statements by a military panel which is conducting an internal military investigation.

“The military has no legal authority to summon civilians and the general public for a military inquiry. Nonetheless, the recent conduct by the military is further proof of the increasing militarization of society,” the statement said.

The media groups said they have reason to believe the recent move is part of a witch-hunt and journalists who had been critical of the military conduct and reported the mayhem in Weliweriya have been at the receiving end of threats issued by defence officials.

“We at the Seven Media Organizations, strongly demand that the government put an end to the unsavory methods that it has resorted to- including the recent summoning of media personnel- and initiate an independent investigation into the Weliweriya incident. In order to move ahead from the tragedy that befell in Weliweriya, it is important that the government owns up the killings committed by its security apparatus. A white wash of the incident or a witch-hunt of the critics of the government would not serve the interests of the public,” the statement added.

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