COAST CITIES — The North County chapter of Amnesty International has recently taken on the plight of a journalist in Sri Lanka, Prageeth Ranjan Bandara Eknaligoda, who was covering the upcoming presidential election last year when he disappeared just days before the vote.
He was traveling home and on his cell phone with a friend when the phone went dead.
“Prageeth had been a sharp critic of the government and had been abducted once before but was released,” said the group’s case coordinator Jim Rockoff, who is directing the member’s actions on Prageeth’s behalf. “His disappearance is a typical pattern in Sri Lanka, where journalists are at great risk of death or disappearance.”
Since 2006, 15 Sri Lankan journalists have been killed and dozens have fled the country. Hearing about the freedom gained by other prisoners aided by Amnesty International has given the local chapter hope that a new campaign they launched at the Carlsbad Street Faire on May 1 might garner some positive results.
Chapter Media Director Alessandra Colfi said, “We’ll be inviting folks to have their picture taken holding a board with Prageeth’s photo and a message to the Sri Lankan authorities — ‘What happened to Prageeth?’ Through the year we hope to obtain 500 or more individual photos that we’ll be periodically sending to the Sri Lankan government. We think the Carlsbad Faire is the perfect place to begin this campaign.”
Earlier this month a local member wrote to Prageeth’s wife in Sri Lanka, lending their support and telling her about this new effort they’ll be starting on behalf of her husband, in addition to the appeals they’re already sending to the government. The club hopes this added effort will bear fruit in getting to the bottom of his disappearance.
The Coast News has been delivering high-quality news, community voice and storytelling since its inception in 1987. Since then, the news organization has grown into a successful newsgroup covering a majority of San Diego’s populous North County region.