Colombo, March 3 (NIA) – A fresh turmoil has erupted at one of Sri Lanka’s leading Sinhala newspapers, the ‘Irudina’ after the Editor of the paper Wimalanath Weeraratne was sacked by the management on Feb 28, without any due reason.
Weeraratne, who was functioning as the Editor for a few years, was surprisingly, on Feb 28 handed over a letter from the management of Leader Publications Pvt Ltd, stating that he had been terminated from work immediately without any reasons mentioned.
However verbally, Weeraratne had been informed that his termination was due to ‘not having control over his editorial staff’.
Following the Editor’s immediate termination, the staff of Irudina had refused to continue work and had demanded for Weeraratne to be reinstated.
On March 1, the Irudina staff, despite being in the premises, had refused to work for the paper which allegedly led to them being removed by the security at 5 that evening.
The next day, when the staff which included of six journalists, had arrived at their work premises, they were refused entry and had been told they too had been terminated from work.
Journalist Sujith Mangala de Silva has been appointed as the new editor of the Irudina paper, but the paper now remains without an editorial staff.
The Free Media Movement (FMM) in a statement on Thursday, condemned Weeraratne’s termination and said this had been a blow to media freedom in the country.
Irudina is the sister paper of the ‘Sunday Leader’ newspaper which was founded by slain journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga.
The paper, has been at the forefront of exposing corruption in any successive government. Sources said that Weeraratne had been terminated by the management of Leader Publications Pvt Ltd as he had been running articles critical of the ‘Good Governance’ government.
Leader Publications Pvt Ltd is currently managed by Ruwan Gallage, who was recently appointed at the Head of Lankaputra Bank.
Sunday Leader and Irudina staff, have in recent years been at the suffering end with journalists being delayed salaries and not having their concerns addressed.
Former Editor Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema resigned from her post in July last year due to non payment of salaries for her staff. Journalist Easwaran Rutnam is now heading the paper.