IPI condemns blocking of Jaffna newspaper distribution
[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 October 2008, 13:50 GMT]
The Press Institute (IPI), a Vienna-based media watchdog, expressed deep
concern on the harassment of journalists of Jaffna daily Uthayan and
interference with the distribution of the Uthayan newspaper by "members of
the paramilitary groups linked to the Eelam People's Democratic Party
(EPDP)," in a letter sent to Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse
Full text of the letter follows:
H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa
President of Sri Lanka
Vienna, 23 October 2008
The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors,
media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, is deeply
concerned about the recent interference with the distribution of the daily
newspaper Uthayan in Sri Lanka's Jaffna province, and the harassment of its
According to information before IPI, on the morning of 23 October, members
of paramilitary groups linked to the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP)
interfered with the delivery of the newspaper. In addition, Uthayan
employees, including its editorial staff, were reportedly prevented by EPDP
cadres and government forces from leaving their homes. Continued
interference will prevent the publication of at least two issues of the
newspaper, causing both financial losses for the newspaper and hampering
Jaffna citizens' ability to receive information.
Uthayan is one of only three newspapers published in Jaffna, and is also
the one with the largest circulation. It has been subjected to great
pressure in recent years. At least three of its journalists have been
killed and many of its journalists stopped coming to work out of fear of
being attacked in connection with their articles, which largely cover the
ongoing conflict and the humanitarian crisis it has caused.
As one of the very few sources of information for the inhabitants of
Jaffna, Uthayan is of vital importance, particularly because it carries
news about the security situation in the province. In times of conflict and
other dangerous situations, the importance of access to timely and accurate
information and news is undeniable.
IPI therefore urges Your Excellency to do everything in your power to
ensure that the distribution of the Uthayan newspaper quickly resumes, and
that its staff is immediately permitted to return to work.
Thank you for your attention.