The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed the release of Dammika Ganganath Dissanayake, media adviser to Sri Lanka’s principal opposition party and a former chairman of the state-owned broadcast agency, who returned home yesterday after being abducted by armed men on the night of March 11.
“The IFJ welcomes the release and safe return of Dissanayake,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“However, his brief disappearance reminds us that the political strife in Sri Lanka plays itself out in threatening ways for people associated with the media.”
The Sri Lankan police said Dissanayake returned home early yesterday morning after being released in the town of Kirindiwella, west of Colombo.
Dissanayake told reporters that he had been blindfolded and questioned at length about a book his abductors thought he had written criticising Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Dissanayake said he was released after he denied knowledge of the book. Sri Lanka’s United National Party claimed that Dissanayake’s abduction was an effort to intimidate and deter him from his reported plans to write a book on the current leadership in Sri Lanka.
“This entire murky episode demands a thorough explanation by the Sri Lankan authorities. Without accountability being established for these lawless acts, the creeping paralysis of the media in Sri Lanka risks becoming irreversible,” White said.