500 Days Without Prageeth Eknaligoda
On June 8th, 2011 Sri Lankan citizens gathered at Lipton Circle in Colombo, the largest city in Sri Lanka. The protesters held signs asking one question, “Where is Prageeth?” It has now been over five hundred days since Prageeth Eknaligoda, a Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist, disappeared while walking from his office to his home in Colombo.
Eknaligoda worked for the online activist newspaper LankaENews.com. His cartoons are critical of the Sri Lankan government, in particular President Mahinda Rajapaksa who has been accused of curtailing media freedom. Currently Sri Lanka is ranked 158th in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index (the United States ranked 20th).
During the 2010 presidential campaign Eknaligoda campaigned for Rajapaksa’s opponent Sarath Fonseka. He disappeared on January 24th, 2010, two days before the election.
Since the elections in January 2010, Eknaligoda’s newspaper, which describes itself as “Campaigning Online for Peace, Democracy, and Governance for Sri Lanka” has been facing intense political pressure and the arrests, exiles, and disappearances of several of its writers.
Sandhya Eknaligoda, wife of the missing cartoonist, has worked with several activist groups including Journalists for a Democratic Sri Lanka and The Rights Dialogue to pressure the government into revealing Eknaligoda’s whereabouts and condition. Sandhya wrote to the UN earlier this year, asking for the organization to assist her; however, the Sri Lankan government has been reluctant to engage with the UN.
Listen to a Reporters Without Borders interview with Sandhya Eknaligoda.
Cartoons: Copyright Prageeth Eknaligoda via prageethranjan.blogspot.com