Tamil MPs slam SLA, paramilitaries for threats to media

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 July 2004, 14:14 GMT]
“Journalist Nadesan was murdered because the Sri Lankan government did not disarm paramilitary groups working with the military as it agreed to do under the cease-fire agreement. A paramilitary group in Batticaloa killed Nadesan and is threatening other independent journalists with death. This group cannot roam Batticaloa with weapons and intimidate and murder journalists without the military’s permission”, said Mr. Senathirajah Jeyanandamoorthy, Tamil National Alliance MP for Batticaloa speaking Tuesday during a debate in the Sri Lankan Parliament on the state of the media in the island.

The MP said that the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act should be completely scrapped because it not only inflicted untold suffering on thousands of Tamils in the northeast but was also used to intimidate and arbitrarily imprison innocent Tamil journalists.

S.Jeyananthamoorthy“I too was a journalist before I was elected to Parliament. Therefore I am glad to take part in this debate. I too have faced threats under the PTA while I worked as a correspondent in the east. Tamil journalists who report the truth in the northeast are branded as Tigers by Sinhala chauvinist media. Batticaloa is not safe for journalists today. Many of my former media colleagues in Batticaloa have fled the town and are living in hiding because of the continuing death threats and fear caused by the paramilitary group”, Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy said.

“Everyone wants this peace to be permanent. But Sinhala chauvinist media are campaigning against peace. They are confusing the people”, he added.

The MP was formerly the TamilNet’s senior correspondent for Batticaloa.

gajendran_s.jpgMr. Selvarajah Gajendran, TNA MP for Jaffna charged that the United People’s Freedom Front government has given a cabinet portfolio to the “leader of the gang that murdered” Mr. Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, the BBC’s correspondent in Jaffna, referring by name to Mr. Douglas Devenanda, MP who not present in the house during the debate.

MP in government benches objected to Mr. Gajendran’s reference to Mr. Douglas on the ground that it contravened Parliamentary privilege of the member. The Speaker then ordered that the reference be expunged from the Hansard.

Mr. Nimalarajan, the well regarded Jaffna journalist was murdered at his home on 19 September 2000. Cadres of the paramilitary group EPDP have been accused in court of carrying out the killing. Mr. Devananda is the leader of the EPDP.

Mr. Gajendran MP, who referred to the Sri Lankan Parliament as the fortress of the lion, said that Mr. Devananda MP “is now advising Karuna (the renegade LTTE commander) to carry on a campaign of violence against journalists in Batticaloa”. (Singhalese consider a lion as their eponymous ancestor)

“The activities of these people would soon precipitate a war”, he said. There was a big uproar when he spoke of the consequences if war were to break out again. Government MPs demanded an apology from Mr. Gajendran for speaking against the Sri Lankan security forces. The Speaker ordered that this part of the Jaffna MPs speech to should be expunged from the Hansard.

 

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