PEN are urging their supporters to campaign on behalf of Prageeth Ekneligoda. We are joining with them to demand news of his whereabouts. We hope you will too. Please see their callout below.

Next Monday, 9 May, Sri Lankan journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda will have been missing for 500 days. Prageeth was abducted on 24 January 2010 and has not been heard from since. There is still no news of his whereabouts or fate and his abductors are still at large.

As yet, no thorough and credible investigation into Prageeth’s case has been made. His wife Sandhya has received almost no response to her repeated requests for information about her husband’s fate, including her incredibly moving letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. (To read the letter, please click here). Sandhya also attended the Galle Literary Festival earlier this year to make a personal plea to the numerous international writers that were there, but with little impact.

Background:

According to our information, political analyst, journalist and visual designer for the Lanka eNews, Prageeth Ekneligoda, was last seen leaving his office on the evening of 24 January 2010. There are fears that he has been targeted by pro-government forces for his open support of the opposition during Sri Lanka’s 2010 presidential elections, although government sources have denied the allegation. Prageeth Ekneligoda is a leading columnist, and reportedly published articles in support of the defeated opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka ahead of the Sri Lankan presidential elections that took place on 26 January 2010. The Lanka eNews website was reportedly blocked during the elections, and its offices were searched by unidentified individuals on 28 January 2010. Previously, on 27 August 2009, Prageeth Ekneligoda had been abducted and held blindfolded overnight, and was released after being told that he was not the correct target. Family and colleagues have expressed increasing concern that the authorities have done very little to investigate Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance, and there are considerable fears for his safety.

English PEN expresses renewed concerns that journalists and writers in Sri Lanka continue to be targeted with apparent impunity for their dissenting views. We respectfully urge the authorities to take immediate action to ensure all crimes against journalists, including Prageeth Ekneligoda, are vigorously investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice. We also call upon the Sri Lankan authorities to abide by their obligations to the international treaties protecting free expression, in particular Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.

For more information, please see http://print.dailymirror.lk/news/news/42879.html

To read a very moving short story by Dr Minoli Salgado written in response to his wife Sandhya’s presence at this year’s Galle Literary Festival, please click here: http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/afeastofwordsbyminolisalgado/

TAKE ACTION

In order to mark 500 days since Prageeth’s disappearance, we are urging all members and friends of PEN to take a couple of minutes out of your day to take one or more of the following actions to show your concern for him and his family:

– Send appeal letters to the authorities in Sri Lanka;
– Send a message of support to Prageeth’s wife Sandhya (via cat@englishpen.org)
– Write a piece for your local or national newspaper highlighting his case;
– Blog or tweet about his case;
– Change your profile picture (on Facebook, Twitter etc) to the ‘Where is Prageeth?’ photo attached.

Please send appeals:

• Expressing dismay that 500 days after the abduction of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda his whereabouts remain unknown and that there has been no credible investigation into his case;
• Expressing renewed concern for the safety of journalists and writers in Sri Lanka, and calling on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect those who are being targeted with apparent impunity solely for their critical writings, in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.

Appeals to:

His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka
Fax: 94 11 2446657
Email: secretary@presidentsoffice.lk
Salutation: Your Excellency

Mr. Mohan Peiris
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department,
Colombo 12,
SRI LANKA
Fax: 94 11 2 436421

H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Ambassador
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
#630, 3rd Avenue (20th Floor)
New York 10017
United States America
mail@slmission.com
Fax 1 (212) 986-1838

Please also send copies of your appeal letters to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country:

His Excellency Justice Nihal Jayasinghe
High Commission of Sri Lanka
No.13, Hyde Park Gardens
London
W2 2LU
Fax: 020 7262 7970
Email: mail@slhc-london.co.uk