The people of Sri Lanka have endured nearly three decades of civil war, violence and destruction of many aspects of their daily lives. A government triumph over rebels led to hopes of restoration of basic rights of freedom of expression, but a recent wave of abductions, beatings of journalists and jailing of those who print the truth casts doubts over the existence of freedom of the press in that troubled land. Chandana Sirimalwatte, a newspaper editor, has been charged with “arousing the general public against the government” for a story dealing with tension between government officials and military leaders. A few months ago, Poddala Jayuantha, another newspaper editor was kidnapped and beaten so severely that two of his legs were broken.
According to Sirimalwatte, noted: “the people have a right to know what powerful people are doing. They want to know about this crisis in government.” Three of his reporters were arrested last month for reporting the news. The aftermath of any civil war is fraught with fears and anxieties. Hopefully, the government of Sri Lanka will accept criticism as it confronts tremendous challenges in rebuilding its society.