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Frederica Jansz Interview Reveals Shocking Danger Facing Sri Lankan JournalistsTim King Salem-News.,com
"Post war Sri Lanka remains trapped in a bubble of intolerance..." - Frederica Jansz
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - The new Al Jazeera video interview (below) with Frederica Jansz, offers a direct line of sight into Sri Lanka's ongoing campaign against the media.
Frederica was the editor for The Sunday Leader in Colombo and after years of remaining determined to stay and make a difference, she was forced to flee Sri Lanka in recent months and appeal for asylum. She is now living in an undisclosed location.
We recently observed the anniversary of the assassination of The Sunday Leader's Editor In Chief and founder, Lasantha Wickramatunga, who was threatened many times and then attacked and shot in broad daylight in January 2009, suffering wounds he would not survive.
As his successor, Frederica suffered years of death threats and was twice followed home by men on motorbikes. With Lasantha's viscous murder so recent, there was no doubt to Frederica that her life was in danger.
After Lasantha's death, the Sunday Leader's reputation for hard hitting news that the government despised continued without missing a beat, with Frederica at the helm of the news operation, but one article turned the tide against her for the final time. It was titled: Gota Goes Berserk!, and stemmed from an interview between Jansz and Sri Lanka's Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that turned extremely hostile. Frederica was asking about the use of a Sri Lanka Airlines plane for personal purposes, to transport a dog to a member of the Rajapaksa family. The unscheduled flight left many passengers hanging and seemed like a joke in this modern world where people schedule flights for important purposes.
During the interview, which was recorded, Gotabaya Rajapaksa lost it, went absolutely nuts and threatened to sue the newspaper, then he threatened Frederica's life. In fact, he threw a true 'fit' like a small child who pounds his fist on the floor because he is spoiled and didn't get exactly what he wanted at meal time.
I asked Frederica to comment on the interview below from Al Jazeera that reveals so much about a nation seemingly bent on eliminating and disappearing journalists and media workers who cross the line, and that is awfully easy for a journalist to do when it comes to reporting the politics of Sri Lanka.
She kindly sent this paragraph back in response:
Listening Post - Feature: Frederica Jansz: Sri Lanka's media crackdown - AlJazeeraEnglish
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With almost 25 years of experience on the west coast and worldwide as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor, Tim King is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine who follows stories of Marines and Marine Veterans.
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