Tamil journalists still feel insecure - SLTMA

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 March 2005, 10:28 GMT]
"Tamil media journalists still feel insecure in the ceasefire situation and also they are facing discrimination language wise", said Mr.R.Barathi, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) in his annual report tabled at the annual general meeting of the SLTMA held during the weekend in Colombo.

Excerpts from his report follow: -

"The SLTMA was founded at a time when Tamil media journalists were subjected to suppression and intimidation militarily. SLTMA was a need at that time. Language wise discrimination is also continuing. Today we live in a no war situation. Even now the security of Tamil media journalists is at stake.

"Tamil media journalists even now are confronting problems they experienced under the draconian laws such as Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (ER) were in force during the wartime.

"Our immediate past President Mr.K.Thurairetnam and two other Tamil journalists left the island due to security reasons. Because of this development SLTMA functioned for the last several months without a President. Some journalists left Batticaloa district, as they felt insecure following the killing of a senior media personnel Mr.Nadesan. Several other journalists who were also intimidated finally left Batticaloa to safe their lives.

"The Batticaloa office of a leading Tamil daily Thinakkural was bombed twice.

"Furthermore Jaffna journalists too came under attack by the security forces when they were covering incidents where members of public held demonstration and protests. Three weeks ago two journalists in Jaffna were brutally assaulted by members of armed forces without a sense of responsibility. No action was taken in this regard even after complaints were lodged with the Police. The SLTMA takes this opportunity to point out to the authorities concerned that failure to take prompt action against errand members of security forces might lead to further attacks of Tamil media journalists.

"Meanwhile the SLTMA expresses its dissatisfaction over the inordinate delay in conducting investigation into the murders of journalists Mr.M. Nimalarajan of Jaffna and Mr.I.Nadesan of Batticaloa. Mr.Nimalarajan was shot dead five years ago but the case in this regard is being dragged on without a conclusion.

"The SLTMA requests the authorities to expedite the inquiry and investigation into the murders of Nimalarajan and Nadesan without further delay.

"In addition to the insecure situation confronted by Tamil journalists, they are also now subjected to language wise discrimination. The SLTMA has already spotlighted the discrimination shown to Tamil media journalists by the government in providing computer training under a project funded by the World Bank.

"International aid agencies provide funds for such projects on condition that no disparity should be shown to any community language wise. But it is a pity to note that officials involved in such projects are least concerned about Tamil media journalists."

Mr.Anand Balakidnar, a journalist of State controlled Lake House newspapers was unanimously elected President of the SLTMA for the ensuing year. Mr.Bharathi of Thinakural and Mr.Sri Gajan of Virakesari were re-elected as General Secretary and Treasurer respectively and unanimously. Mr.A.L.M.Saleem was re-elected Vice President.

Mr.Kumar Rupesinghe of Foundation for Co-Existence and Dr.Geetha Fontgalland delivered the keynote addresses during the first session of the annual general meeting of the SLTMA, sources said.


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