Sri Lankan government bars independant coverage on war casualties
IRTAG Media | April 28, 2008 at 07:07 amby
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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the actions of government officials in denying photojournalists access to report on casualties of the latest violence between the Sri Lankan Army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, four photographers were barred from entering hospitals where injured army personnel (estimated to be in the hundreds) were reportedly being treated after fighting intensified in the country’s north last week.
The FMM said the restriction reflects a greater growing concern that official statistics of casualties are under-reported by government-appointed military spokesmen.
Government military statements report that the Army has allegedly killed more than 3000 Tamil fighters in 2008. However, the FMM reports verification is limited as the only independent news sources covering the conflict are a small number of foreign wire services and Colombo-based news websites.
“The IFJ joins the FMM in stressing that the public has a right to know exactly what is happening in the conflict, and this knowledge is central to any hope of peaceful resolution in the future,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“By restricting the ability of independent media to cover the war in a manner that accurately reports the numbers of dead and injured, both the LTTE and the Government are undermining press freedom, which is a crucial element of democratic stability.”
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