02 December, 2008 - Published 15:25 GMT

Watchdogs slam UNP leader

Media watchdogs in Sri Lanka have condemned threats to Daily Mirror by the leader of the opposition.

President of Sri Lanka Working journalists Assosiation (SLWJA) Sananth Balasuriya told BBC Sandeshaya that opposition leader, Ranil Wickramasinghe, should withdraw his threatening remarks against the English language daily.

The Five Media Collective has criticised Mr. Wickramsinghe's remarks, in a press conference, on Daily Mirror's editor and deputy editor on Monday.

Media oppression

When a question was raised by the Daily Mirror correspondant at the press briefing the the United National Party (UNP) leader has come back saying "go and ask that question from your editor and deputy editor".

Daily Mirror Deputy Editor Kesara Abeywardena in a column he wrote has earlier described Ranil Wickremasinghe as "a weak leader".

"We would like to note that any such irritating remarks by any party at a time there is a strong oppression and censorship in the country," the watchdogs said in a statement.

The Five Media Collective called upon all political leaders and movements to prevent making such remarks on media.

The watchdogs have also criticised the editor of Daily Mirror for not publishing certain news items 'according to her own choice'.

"We firmly believe that not only the politicians but also media should behave in a manner that will be respected by the public," the statement said.

Daily Mirror denies

Daily Mirror editor Champika Liyanaarachchi told BBC Sandeshaya that she completely deny the accusations.

“We were criticised by all parties; government, opposition, LTTE, TMVP, etc as Daily Mirror has been unbiased in its coverage. If we have been biased towards one party we will only get accusations from the other party,” Ms. Liyanaarachchi said.

“Five Media Collective should also elaborate whether they are going to issue similar statements against other media institutions when any of them don’t cover a story,” she added.

The Five Media Collective consists of SLWJA, Federation of Media Employees Trade Union (FMETU), Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF), Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists Alliance (SLTJA) and Free Media Movement (FMM).