ECONOMYNEXT – Four South Asian heads of state or government including Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa have been added to a 2021 ‘press freedom predators gallery’ curated by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“RSF is publishing a gallery of grim portraits, those of 37 heads of state or government who crack down massively on press freedom. Some of these ‘predators of press freedom’ have been operating for more than two decades while others have just joined the blacklist, which for the first time includes two women and a European predator,” RSF said on its website on July 02.
Seventeen of the 37 leaders are making the list for the first time. RSF said it’s publishing the gallery five years after the last one in 2016.
“All are heads of state or government who trample on press freedom by creating a censorship apparatus, jailing journalists arbitrarily or inciting violence against them, when they don’t have blood on their hands because they have directly or indirectly pushed for journalists to be murdered,” it said.
With regard to Sri Lanka, RSF said since the election of President Rajapaksa in 2019, much of Sri Lanka’s press is self-ceonsoring either because of what he “did in the past or what he is doing now as president”.
“Many Sri Lankan journalists now face a terrible dilemma. Do they do their job or do they avoid putting their lives in danger?” it said.
The other South Asian leaders in the gallery are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hassina.
Other prominent world leaders are Chinese President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. (Colombo/July06/2021)