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Amnesty urges S.Lanka to end post-poll ‘clampdown’

[AFP, Tuesday, 2 February 2010 09:13 No Comment]

Sri Lankan journalists have given Amnesty a list of 56 of their colleagues who face serious threats afp Rights monitor Amnesty International urged Sri Lanka on Tuesday to end what it described as a post-presidential election "clampdown" on the media, political opponents and human rights activists.

Pressure on government critics has been mounting since President Mahinda Rajapakse was re-elected on January 26, defeating his former army chief Sarath Fonseka, the London-based human rights group said.

"Victory against the Tamil Tigers followed by a historic election should have ended political repression in Sri Lanka, but instead we have seen a serious clampdown on freedom of expression," said Madhu Malhotra, Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

Amnesty cited the post-poll arrests of opposition supporters and journalists, death threats against several prominent newspaper editors and the harassment of trade unionists.

A pro-opposition newspaper was raided, several websites supporting Fonseka were blocked while Prageeth Eknaligoda, who wrote for the Lanka e-news website, disappeared on his way home from work two days before the election.

Sri Lankan journalists have given Amnesty a list of 56 of their colleagues who face serious threats, including some attached to state-run media organisations.

The independent Centre for Monitoring Election Violence reported more than 85 post-election incidents, including two murders and several assaults.

"Threats, beatings and arrests mean that Sri Lankan human rights activists live in fear of the consequences of expressing their political opinions," said Malhotra.

The government has accused Fonseka and his supporters of plotting a coup and on Monday sacked a dozen senior military officers whom the defence ministry said were a "direct threat to national security".

Amnesty said the government has also detained 13 former military officials supporting Fonseka and was holding them incommunicado.

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