Sri Lanka: Assault of Editor Rajpal Abeynayake is an indication of erosion of common decency and lack of respect for free speech

Press release/ 13 Dec 2011

Networking for Rights considers the recent assault of lawyer and Editor of Lakbimanews, Rajpal Abeynayake and the incidents that led to this unpleasant situation as a further indication of the erosion of common decency and a growing lack of respect for free speech even amongst the professional classes of Sri Lanka.

Abeyanayake has made a statement that he was assaulted by a fellow lawyer at the annual Voetlights dinner of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka on December 3rd. The assault occurred allegedly owing to his comments about former Chief Justice Sarath Nanda Silva, who, while in office was accused of bending the rules, and has of late, become one of the leading lights in calling for democracy and the rule of law in the country.

Abeynayake alleges that his assailant had threatened him with more violence if he spoke again. Organisers of the Voetlights dinner says that Mr Abeynayake had entered the venue without purchasing a ticket and that he had created a disturbance and an unpleasant situation for those who attended the event.

 It is indeed a sad manifestation of a total demise of civil discourse that even at private gatherings society descends to the incivility as also displayed in parliament recently. One would except that professionals would at least respect one another and the freedom to express opinions. Resorting to violence is not permissible in these situations and should not be condoned.

Networking for Rights calls upon all professionals to band together and to arrest this trend, where violence is used to curb dissent and where free speech is no longer valued.

Issued by the Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

 

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