Police investigate EU media seminar
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 May 2000, 20:34 GMT]
The Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) of the Sri Lankan Police questioned today a senior Tamil journalist regarding a seminar sponsored by the European Union (EU) in Batticaloa last month. The CSU interrogated Mr.R.Thurairatnman, the Batticaloa correspondent for the Tamil daily Thinakaran, the Daily News and the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation, and recorded a statement from him this afternoon regarding the participants and purpose of the EU sponsored seminar.
The CSU had later contacted an official of the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA), a joint organiser of the seminar and exchange program, and obtained from him a list of the journalists who took part in the event.
An organiser of the seminar said that the general tenor of the CSU investigation appears to be aimed at framing or intimidating some senior Tamil journalists and regional correspondents who report on the war.
He said that the investigation is a worrisome development as the CSU is one of the most dreaded arms of the Sri Lankan security forces operating in the northern and eastern provinces of the island. The matter will be soon taken up with the Media Ministry according to him.
The CSU investigates, arrests and detains persons suspected to be members of the Liberation Tigers.
Human Rights Organisation have held it responsible in the past for torture and disappearances in the Batticaloa district.
The European Union sponsored the seminar and inter-provincial exchange program for Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim journalists in Batticaloa on April 21 and 22 in conjunction with the National Peace Council (NPC), the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and the Sri Lanka Press Council.
More than sixty accredited journalists from all parts of the island participated.
The program was designed to build better understanding and rapport between Sinhala media persons and Tamil speaking journalists, particularly regional correspondents.
"The whole aim and purpose of the program is now rendered meaningless as a consequence of this CSU investigation. This shows that Tamil journalists continue to remain vulnerable to arrest, interrogation and detention by outfits such as the CSU" said an official of the SLTMA.
The CSU has informed Mr.Thurairatnam that he might be questioned again tomorrow. Mr. Thurairatnam is the secretary of the East Lanka Journalists' Association.