Douglas berates Jaffna press
[TamilNet, Thursday, 17 May 2001, 13:05 GMT]
“I do not trust the press in Jaffna”, said Mr. Douglas Devananda, MP, Minister for Development Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the North and Tamil Affairs (North and East), addressing a press conference Thursday afternoon at his office on Stanley Road in the northern town. The road, in the busy heart of Jaffna town, was blocked off to the public from Thursday morning 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the afternoon by Sri Lanka army soldiers, Policemen and armed cadres of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). The press briefing was called after the conclusion of the Jaffna electorate development meeting, which was boycotted by five Jaffna MPs who are protesting that it is not safe for them to be present in Mr. Devananda’s office cum camp on Stanley Road.
Mr. Devananda charged that the Uthayan, the Tamil daily published from Jaffna, Thinakkural, the Tamil daily published from Colombo and the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) are working concertedly against him and his party, the EPDP. He told a local freelance journalist who was present at the briefing that he should stop working for the IBC.
The EPDP leader lashed out at the Tamilnet too for its reports on events in Jaffna.
The Minister was particularly critical of the Utyhayan. He accused the paper of preparing the May Day press release of the UNP MP for Jaffna, Mr. T. Maheswaran. Answering a question from a freelance journalist as to why he had told ‘Thuglak, a Tamil political weekly published in Tamil Nadu that his government would never talk to the Tigers, an apparently irate Mr. Devananda excoriated the Uthayan for distorting his interview with that publication.
“You have not allocated any funds for development of Vadamaradchi east although you are exploiting the region’s resources. What have you got to say on the matter?” Mr. V. Thavachelvam, a freelance journalist from Pt. Pedro, in a patent reference to the large quantities of beach sand the EPDP removes daily from the Manalkaadu – Vallipuram coast for sale in Jaffna town. Residents here protest that this is causing sea erosion.
“I do not like to build a house of sand on the beach”, replied Mr. Devananda.
Eleven journalists, including correspondents of the Uthayan, Shakthi Radio and TV, Valampuri, Tamil daily published in Jaffna, Veerakesari and Sooriyan FM radio took part in the conference.
The Government Agent for Jaffna and the three EPDP MPs for Jaffna were also present at the press conference.