International Community should protect Tamil media - TMF

[TamilNet, Friday, 05 May 2006, 11:04 GMT]
"The threats, attacks, and killings of Tamil journalists carried out by the Sri Lanka Security Forces and the collaborating paramilitary have reached unprecedented levels. The entire Tamil media is being targeted and intimidated by Security Forces," said the Tamil Media Forum in its memorandum to Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse handed over to Killinochchi Government Agent (GA) Mr. T. Rasanayagam Thursday at 11.30 a.m, said sources from Kilinochchi.

Kilinochchi march
Marchers on their way to the UNICEF office.
"International community has a moral responsibility to protect the Tamil media and journalists, and to condemn the GoSL for the oppression against the Tamil media," the memorandum said.

The TMF had organised the protest demonstration to condemn the Uthayan killings and the recent assassinations of several Tamil journalists and youths in the north and east, said TMF officials.

The protest march, with the participants bearing the photographs of assassinated journalists, began at the entrance of the Kilinochchi government secretariat and proceeded to the GA's office where the memorandum was handed over to the Government Agent, added the sources.
Kilinochchi march
Participants in the march including Ms. Pathmini Sithamparanathan.
Kilinochchi march
Mrs. Penny Brune receiving memorandum.

The demonstrators then marched along the A9 highway to the office of the UNICEF where the Secretary of TMF Mr. Vivek handed over the memorandum addressed to the General Secretary of the United Nations to the UNICEF residential representative Mrs. Penny Brune.

Speeches condemning the killings of Tamil journalists and destruction Tamil media establishments were made by several participants in the demonstration.

The Chief-editor of the Vanni daily Eelanatham P. Jeyaraj and staff, Chief-editor of Tigers' Voice Mr. Thavabalan and staff, journalists, Tamil Television Network Chief-editor Mr. Karunakaran and staff, representatives of other Tamil news papers, radio journalists, representatives of the non-governmental organisations and large number of people participated in the protest march, sources said.

Kilinochchi march
Marchers with Taraki Sivaram's photo.
Kilinochchi march
Marchers entering governement secretariet.

The following is the text of the memorandum

The moral responsibility of the international community to protect the Tamil media

We, the members of the Tamil Media Group, write to bring to your attention the following issues relating to the threats we are facing to our democratic right of free media.

For several decades now, the Sri Lankan state has acted undemocratically in denying media freedom. Journalists, in particular Tamil journalists, had to face multifaceted threats. It is a tragedy that the international community has neglected this threat faced by the Tamil journalists.

The threats, attacks, and killings of Tamil journalists carried out by the Sri Lanka Security Forces and the collaborating paramilitary have reached unprecedented levels. The entire Tamil media is being targeted and intimidated by Security Forces.

Although the GoSL may deny it, it is no secret that the attacks on the entire Tamil media has the blessings of the GoSL. The GoSL considers the Tamil journalists who think and write supporting Tamil nationalism as its enemies. The list of Tamil journalists, who have been the victims of the GoSL, is very long and is growing.

On Tuesday, 2nd May 2006, evening around 7.00 pm, five gunmen in black entered the Uthayan Press Office in Jaffna through the back door, and searched for the daily's editors. When they could not find the editors they randomly sprayed bullets into the office killing two employees, wounding three more and destroying several computers and other press equipment.

One of the editor's of the Uthayan daily has indirectly pointed to the culprits behind this attack. The President, who contacted an important personality of the Uthayan, within fifteen minutes of the attack, did not care to find out the details of the attack. Yet, the next day at the gathering in Colombo to celebrate the international day for the freedom of media, he claimed that the LTTE is behind this attack.

When the Uthayan employee at the gathering denied President's claim, he managed the situation by saying that he will investigate it. The negligence demonstrated by the President shows his desire to protect the perpetrators.

We know how the GoSL has handled the investigations into the murders other Tamil journalists, from Nimalarajan to Sivaram (Tharaki), who worked with conviction to bring out the truth to the world.

Even if GoSL could claim that it does not have enough evidence to prosecute culprits of these murders, there is one other murder on which this claim too falls flat. Few months ago Sudaroli journalist, Yathurson, who went to cover JVP protest in Colombo, was attacked by mobs. Video recording of this attack is available. Yet, GoSL did not take any action.

This speaks loudly that the GoSL wants to protect those who threaten, assault and murder Tamil journalists.

Do you not consider it very serious that this threat to the Tamil media has reached a peak during this CFA period?

We believe, in order to protect the Tamil media from the dangers it is facing, the international community has a moral responsibility to condemn the GoSL for its brutally oppressive actions against the

Tamil media.



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