Demonstration against attack on Uthayan

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 31 August 1999, 10:03 GMT]
Over two hundred journalists, writers, students, priests and others took part in a demonstration in Jaffna town this noon to protest against the grenade attack on the Uthayan paper on August 21, blamed on a paramilitary organisation operating with the Sri Lanka Army in Jaffna.

The demonstration was held at the main bus stand in the heart of Jaffna town from 12 noon to 1 p.m. today.

A contingent of Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops was present at the venue, causing anxiety amongst the protesters, as the SLA had earlier pressured Jaffna shopkeepers not to join the protest, said witnesses.

uthayan-demo_1_310899.jpgA spokesman for the North Sri Lanka Journalists' Association, which organised the protest, told TamilNet that a large number of people from the local media and business establishments had, however, come to the venue of the demonstration in Jaffna town.

The demonstrators held placards and shouted slogans. Black flags were carried also.

Representatives from the union of Jaffna university non-academic staff, the university's students' association, the Vanni region students' organisation, the Hindu Peravai, the Tamil Teachers Association, members of the Missing Persons' Guardian Association, the Peace and Good Will movement of the Jaffna Catholic church, and Catholic Kalai Ilakkiya Pervai were among those who took part in the demonstration.

Staff from the Sri Lanka State radio's FM station, which broadcasts from the SLA base at Palaly also, joined the protest.

The North Sri Lanka journalists' Association sent a memorandum to the Sri Lankan president at the conclusion of the protest.

The memorandum stated, among other issues, " we the journalists in the north wish to submit before you the sordid incident of throwing hand grenades at Uthayan (the only Tamil daily in the north) newspaper office to create fear psychosis and gag the press from exposing incidents of extortion, corruption, moral turpitude and other incidents of social and cultural debasement."

"We appeal to your Excellency to set the arms of law in motion to carry out an impartial inquiry into this contemptible attack and take action to prevent incidents of this nature in future," the memorandum

Earlier Sri Lanka Army soldiers told shopkeepers in Jaffna town they should not close their businesses from 12 noon today to 1 p.m. in support of the demonstration.

The Jaffna Traders' Association had called on all business establishments in the northern town to remain half closed and for all its members to take part in the protest this noon.

The Association had placed an advertisement in the Uthayan on the matter and had also informed all its members to show their solidarity with the North Sri Lanka Journalists Association and the Uthayan paper.

The grenade attack on the Uthayan was carried out by cadres from the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), according to Manikathasan, leader of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). Both paramilitary groups operate alongside the SLA in Jaffna.

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Related Articles:
24.08.99   EPDP accused of grenade attack on Jaffna daily
21.08.99   Grenades lobbed at office of Jaffna daily

 

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