CPJ condemns ‘brazen abduction and execution’

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 April 2005, 18:25 GMT]
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the murder on Friday of leading military analyst and political commentator, Dharmeratnam Sivaram, saying “the brazen abduction and execution of a veteran journalist sends a chilling message to others in the Tamil media.”

“The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the brutal killing of leading Tamil journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram, who was abducted yesterday and found dead this morning near the capital, Colombo, from gunshot wounds to the head,” the New York based organisation said in a statement.

“A founding member and contributor to the TamilNet and a military and political columnist for the English language Daily Mirror, Sivaram wrote sympathetically about the rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),” CPJ said, pointing out that police searched his house twice last year looking for weapons, but did not find anything to incriminate him.

“This audacious and brutal crime is an attack on free speech in Sri Lanka,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said.

“The brazen abduction and execution of a veteran journalist sends a chilling message to others in the Tamil media,” she said.

“We call on all sides to respect the rights and safety of journalists, and we urge authorities to follow through on their pledges to thoroughly investigate this cold-blooded killing.”

Highlighting comments to the press by Tamil MP Amirthanathan Adaikkalanathan in which the lawmaker pointed out that Sivaram’s last article for the Tamil-language daily Virakesari criticized the renegade Tamil Tiger commander Karuna, who is now implicated in a murderous cycle of violence against LTTE cadres and supporters, CPJ noted “Sivaram had received death threats in recent weeks, according to exiled Tamil journalists.”

The LTTE has accused the government of using ‘Karuna Group’ cadres to target LTTE members and supporters, a charge the government has vehemently denied.

However, the head of the international ceasefire monitors in the restive Batticaloa region, Mr. Steen Joergensen, confirmed to a Presidential enquiry two weeks ago that he had observed the presence of anti-LTTE paramilitaries in government-held areas.

Although according to the terms of the ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE, Colombo had to disband all paramilitary forces, Mr. Joergensen told the Presidential Commission the Karuna Group was formed last year and its cadres were observed in the Army-controlled Welikanda area.

A number of cadres from the Karuna Group and other paramilitaries, as well as informants to the Sri Lanka Army, have been killed in attacks blamed on the LTTE.


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