[Full Text of FMM Press Release]
The passing away of Ajith Samaranayake a leading journalist of Sri Lanka and a founding member of the Free Media Movement (FMM), saddens us. Ajith was a long time activist for media freedom in Sri Lanka . He held the post of chief editor in number of newspapers including The Island and The Sunday Observer. He was a role model for many journalists and continued to be an active participant and activist for press freedom and media rights initiatives championed by the FMM.
Ajith leaves his wife to whom we extend our deepest condolences.
We celebrate Ajith’s life as one of Sri Lanka ’s leading journalists committed to professional journalism and media reform. Throughout his career, he explored the challenges of peace- building, good governance and democracy in Sri Lanka in a manner inspired by principles of professional and ethical journalism. His vision for media was one that would articulate the aspirations and concerns of all peoples in Sri Lanka . Conciliatory, deeply insightful, vigorous, passionate and committed, Ajith’s writings over the years show a journalist not averse to controversy and who welcomed public debate of his ideas and opinions.
He continued to write on the need for a Public Service Journalism culture in Sri Lanka to address the lack of professionalism in journalists he saw around him.
Putting words to action was never a problem for Ajith – he was a deeply committed activist for media freedom in Sri Lanka and participated in many public campaigns on Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Information and Public Service Media.
He was unafraid to lend his voice to strengthen campaigns against media censorship, as evident in his vocal condemnation of the banning of Aksharaya earlier this year, a film by Ashoka Handagama .
His writing and his voice inspired many of us to become better journalists, and helped us frame contentious, complex issues in a manner that did not inflame violent passions. His legacy will be a corpus of journalism that strengthened the development of professional media by example.
We will miss him.
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