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Sri Lanka accused of sabotaging media training

June 11, 2014

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s government has disrupted a training program for journalists from the country’s former civil war zone, accusing them of being agents for the defeated Tamil Tiger separatists, a corruption watchdog said Wednesday.

Transparency International Sri Lanka said in a statement that it organized training on corruption-related investigative reporting for ethnic Tamil journalists from the country’s north and east. The journalists, however, were evicted from two training venues, the statement said.

The managers of the first venue told the group that the defense ministry had objected to the training, while a group of protesters, including military personnel, disrupted a second attempt, according to the statement. It said the participants were also forced out of their hotel at night.

Defense ministry spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya rejected the allegation. “We regret that Transparency International resorts to making such baseless allegations,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s military has been accused of excessive interference in civil matters since the country’s quarter-century civil war ended five years ago.

Transparency International said it had conducted similar training for other journalists without hindrance and that denying an opportunity for Tamil journalists to undergo training could further erode ethnic unity in the country.

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