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CPJ calls on Sri Lankan authorities to open a new and impartial investigation into army attack on Tamil journalist

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Sri Lankan authorities to "immediately open a new, impartial investigation" into the attack on Tamil journalist Vishwalingham Vishwachandran. 

Last week, four Sri Lankan military personnel viciously attacked the Mullaitivu journalist for taking a photo of a Mullivaikkal road sign. The Lanka Sri journalist was thrown against barbed wire and was admitted to Mullaitivu hospital for his injuries.

“The Sri Lanka army’s denial of its soldiers’ brutal beating of Vishwalingam Vishwachandran is a brazen and shameful attack on press freedom in a country where Tamil journalists continue to face constant harassment for doing their jobs,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator said. 

“Authorities must swiftly open a new impartial investigation into the incident and hold the perpetrators to account while protecting Vishwachandran’s safety and confidentiality in the process,” he added. 

The attack on Vishwachandran spurred protests in Mullaitivu and Batticaloa, with the Mullaitivu Press Club releasing a statement condemning not only his assault but the ongoing harassment of Tamil journalists.

Earlier this week, the Sri Lankan army lashed out at the media in a public statement, claiming that the assault of a Tamil journalist by military personnel on Saturday was "unverified, exaggerated and factually incorrect", instead blaming "various social media platforms, largely with vested interests."

The military decried coverage of the assault as a “carefully orchestrated and maliciously planned plot” and urged the public not to be “misled by such planted incidents and malicious attempts."

In their statement, the CPJ highlighted a tweet by Former Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Ambika Satkunanathan, which stated that publishing the details of Vishwachandran’s medical examination report constitutes a breach of confidentiality under Sri Lankan law.

CPJ contacted the Sri Lankan army media department, Mullaitivu's Security Forces Headquarters and Mullaitivu police station's officer-in-charge for comment but did not receive any reply.  

Read CPJ's full statement here

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