Sri Lanka deports Indian reporter covering ex-warzone

Updated 28 December 2013
0

Sri Lanka deports Indian reporter covering ex-warzone

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has deported an Indian journalist arrested on a charge of working in the island's former war zone without media credentials, police said.
The 24-year-old, who was working for a magazine based in the Indian city of Chennai, was arrested on Christmas Day for photographing military installations in Sri Lanka's north, police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.
"We deported him this evening without pressing charges," Rohana said.
"But, we deleted all the pictures he had taken in the north."
Rohana said they suspected the reporter, identified as Tamil Prabhakaran, was trying to produce a documentary and write articles tarnishing the image of Sri Lanka.
Police said he had come into the country on a tourist visa and travelled to the former war zone without declaring that he was on assignment to report from the embattled area.
There is no official censorship in Sri Lanka, but foreign journalists travelling to the former conflict zone are still required to submit their passport to the military before entering, four years after the end of the war.
A British TV crew was also barred from travelling to the Jaffna area just before a Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka last month that was dominated by a bitter dispute over war crimes.
Also in November, authorities forced out two Australian media rights activists after accusing them of entering the country on tourist visas and participating in a rights forum.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) accused Sri Lanka of keeping up a policy of harassing independent journalists despite the end of the fighting with Tamil rebels in May 2009.
"Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse continually insists that his administration has nothing to hide, yet time and time again, we see authorities harass and intimidate journalists in an effort to prevent them from doing their work," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said.
He had also called for Prabhakaran's immediate release.
Indian diplomats said they had been granted consular access to the reporter and were told earlier Saturday that he was being deported.
Sri Lanka has resisted international pressure to address allegations of war crimes committed during the military's final push against Tamil rebels in 2009 that ended the decades-long war.
According to the UN and rights groups, as many as 40,000 civilians may have died as troops loyal to the mainly Sinhalese government routed the Tamil Tiger rebel movement in its last stronghold in Jaffna in 2009.
Colombo denies the allegations but has began compiling a death toll from the war.
During the height of fighting, Sri Lanka prevented independent journalists traveling to the island's north, drawing criticism that it was a war without witnesses.


Zimbabwe rally blast injured 41: minister

Updated 54 min 37 sec ago
0

Zimbabwe rally blast injured 41: minister

  • A blast that rocked a rally in which Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped unscathed injured at least 41 people, including his two deputies
  • Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the city’s White City stadium

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe: A blast that rocked a rally in which Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa narrowly escaped unscathed injured at least 41 people, including his two deputies, the health minister told a state Sunday paper.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, said wounded rallygoers had been treated at three main hospitals across the city and “a total of 41... have so far approached our health institutions complaining of injuries.”
Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the city’s White City stadium.
Mnangagwa said he was the target of the attack, which also injured Vice Presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga.
The device “exploded a few inches away from me — but it is not my time,” the president told state broadcaster on Saturday night, blaming the attack on his “mortal enemies.”
“These are my mortal enemies and the attempts have been so many.
“It’s not the first attempt (on) my life. I’m used to it. Six times my office has been broken into; cyanide was put in my offices so many times. I will continue.”
The health minister said some of those wounded had lost limbs and some would require “serious surgery,” suggesting the number of injured could rise as the government was still consolidating numbers from the various hospitals.
“We have no fatalities so far,” said Parirenyatwa.
Mnangagwa, who was quickly rushed away from the scene of the explosion, later visited the injured in hospital.
While Bulawayo has long been a bastion of opposition to the ZANU-PF and it was Mnangagwa’s first rally in the city, commentators suggest the attack could have been instigated by internal ructions within the ruling party.
The polls in five weeks will be the first since Zimbabwe’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe resigned following a brief military takeover in November last year after 37 years in power.
The intervention by the army was led by Chiwenga who was then head of the armed forces.
The vote will be a key test for Mnangagwa, 75, who succeeded the 94-year-old autocrat and remains untested at the ballot box.
He has pledged to hold free and fair elections as he seeks to mend international relations and have sanctions against Zimbabwe dropped.
Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by electoral fraud, intimidation and violence, including the killing of scores of opposition supporters in 2008.