Director-General condemns the killing of Sri Lankan journalist Rashmi Mohamed in a bomb attack
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the suicide bomb attack on the offices of Sri Lanka's United National Party (UNP) in the city of Anuradhapura, which killed TV journalist Rashmi Mohamed and left more than 20 civilians dead and 80 others injured on 6 October.
"I condemn the cowardly attack that has led to the tragic death of so many people," declared the Director-General. "In view of UNESCO's mandate regarding the fundamental human right of freedom of expression and freedom of speech, I must draw particular attention to the unacceptable killing of journalist Rashmi Mohamed. In doing so, I wish to honour journalists and other media workers, who, when exercising their profession that contributes to ensuring greater transparency, accountability and participation in democratic processes, put their lives at risk. It is essential that every possible step be taken to improve the safety of journalists."
The explosion at the opening ceremony of the UNP's new offices in Anuradhapura killed Rashmi Mohamed, a correspondent of Sirasa TV. More than 20 other people are reported to have died in the attack, including the leader of the opposition of the North Central Provincial Council, Major General Janaka Perera, and other leading UNP figures.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."