British documentary team forced to leave Jaffna
[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 October 2007, 12:14 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Jaffna has forced three female journalists, including two journalists from UK based Quicksilver Media and a Sri Lankan journalist accompanying them, to return to Colombo Friday, canceling their documentary mission in Jaffna for the British Channel 4 Television. On Thursday, an hour after arriving at a hotel in Jaffna city, with military escort, they were taken back to Palaali base where they had to stay overnight before returning to Colombo next day. The SLA officers in Palaali, upon the arrival of the documentary team, had offered accommodation in a military camp, but the journalists had declined to accept the offer, informed media sources in Colombo said.
Reporter Sandra Jordan, Director Siobhan Sinnerton of Quicksilver Media and a Sri Lankan journalist, upon their arrival to Jaffna at Palaali airport, were briefed by a SLA Brigade Commander on the security situation in Jaffna before they were allowed to proceed to Jaffna city.
However, an hour after they arrived at Thinakkural Rest, the hotel where they were preparing for a documentary work, they were instructed by the SLA soldiers to return to Palaali military base with immediate effect, citing security reasons.
The journalists, despite their explanation that they had obtained clearance from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence (MoD), were taken back to the military complex.
The documentary team was scheduled to stay in Jaffna till October 7 and to visit various places including the islets.
Friday morning, the SLA took the journalists on a guided two-hour trip to Jaffna city, where they were taken to Jaffna hospital and to the Human Rights Commission, before they were returned to Palaali airport canceling their documentary work. Although they were allowed to video record, they were unable to freely interview people without the presence of military personnel.
Quicksliver Media has produced powerful documentaries for Channel 4ís award-winning foreign affairs strand "Unreported World" featuring conflicts of Afganistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, South Africa, Nigeria, Guatamala, West Papua and Mexico. It has won the prestigious Royal Television Society Award for International Current Affairs for the documentary "The Death Squads," a hard hitting investigation into Iraq's death squads.