FMM condemns burning of 10,000 copies of Virakesari

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 09:39 GMT]
The Free Media Movement (FMM)- Sri Lanka condemned the burning 10,000 copies of the Tamil daily Virakesari, and Metro News near Kiran Regional Secretariat 22nd Monday around 3:50 a.m. by paramilitary cadres alleged to be belonging Karuna group, in a statement released Wednesday in Colombo, political sources in Colombo said. Earlier in August, paramilitaries collaborating with the SLA threatened the owner of Surena Travels not to deliver to Muruges and Son Stores, Sudaroli and Thinakural news papers.

On August 5, paramilitary cadres burnt the Sudaroli, Thinakural distributor's shop, Muruges and Sun Stores in Batticaloa, located 75 meters from the Special Task Force (STF) camp.

The full text of the FMM press release follows:

Free media Movement – Sri Lanka

Press release/25 October 2006

10,000 copies of Tamil Daily Virakesari burned by Para military group

Free Media Movement ( FMM) registers its strong condemnation of continuing threats and harassments to Tamil language media in Sri Lanka. On 22nd Monday October 2006 10,000 copies of Tamil Daily Virakesari was burned by a para military group operating in the east of Sri Lanka relevant authorities Virakesari of V told FMM. This is the latest incident of series of killings, harassments and threats directed towards Tamil language media in Sri Lanka.

An armed group of 10-15 men had stopped the private passenger transport bus and a van carrying the copies of Virakesari daily and metro News to be distribution and burned nearly 10,000 copies.

The incident took place near Kiran, Batticaclo around 3.30 pm. Kiran is in the government controlled territory of Batticaclo.

Karuna Group has political party offices in government controlled areas in the east and in Colombo, and protected by Sri Lankan security forces.

According to Tamil net website " The armed men took away bus driver's hand phone and asked him to collect it at the office of the Karuna group. Three months earlier the Virakesari Agents 'Murugesu & Sons' shop on the Main Street in Batticaloa was burnt down by armed gangs."

Virakesari was the only Tamil language news paper which has been distributed in the east for some time now. Other two Tamil dailies Sudar Oli and Thinakural, were banned in the beginning of the year in Batticaloa and Amparai allegedly by Karuna group. According to Sudaroli management one third of their circulation has dropped due to this ban.

FMM urge the government to take urgent steps to reverse this situation, so that Tamil language news papers will be able to distribute freely and people living in Eastern province of Sri Lanka will have the choice of reading what ever newspaper they like.

Free Media Movement -For more information -Sunanda Deshapriya – (+ 94)777 312457


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