SLA blocks coverage of Arbour's Jaffna visit

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 October 2007, 12:48 GMT]
North Ceylon Journalists Association (NCJA), in a communiqué issued Friday, condemned Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in threatening the journalists attempting to cover the visit of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR), Ms.Louise Arbour, to Jaffna district.

Excerpts from the communiqué signed by C.Kathirgamathamby, president of NCJA follow:

"NCJA condemns the action of SLA targeting journalists, especially those from "Thinakural" newspaper. SLA troopers operating on motor bicycles on Nalloor Road stopped all journalists, confiscated the cameras and films containing photographs taken during meeting with K.Ganesh, Jaffna Government Agent(GA) at the secretariat, and destroyed the films. Their personal details were collected by SLA and the journalist were released after being threatened.

"We condemn the expulsion of the journalists from the residence of Jaffna representative of United Nations (UN).

"We also condemn the SLA for not granting permission for the journalists to cover the visit by High Commissioner (HC), Louise Arbour.

"A number of journalists were expelled from Jaffna peninsula and the international community should take note of this" the communiqué pointed out.

Meanwhile, thousands of grieving family members of the victims who were abducted disappeared, and those who sought protection with Jaffna office of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) were prevented from meeting Ms.Arbour, civil society sources in Jaffna said.

The civilians were blocked by SLA soldiers from seeing the visiting UN High Commissioner at Jaffna Secretariat as well as at UNCHR and UN offices.

The frustrated civilians proceeded towards the official residence of the Bishop of Jaffna Rt.Rev.Dr.Thomas Savundranayagam but once again SLA troops blocked them and directed them towards the nearby St.Mary's Cathedral. However on the insistence of the Bishop, the special assistant of the visiting HC and a representative of the Bishop were able to meet the thousands of civilians gathered in the cathedral premises and accept their memoranda.

Meanwhile some civilians managed to by pass the SLA troops and entered the Bishop's house where they met the UN High Commissioner and handed over their memoranda.

The representatives of the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Heads of various Government, Government officials in the peninsula pointed out to HC, the serious human rights violations by SLA in Jaffna peninsula .Explaining in detail the atrocities committed by SLA in the North, they said there is no freedom of expression and they are unable to lodge any complaints against SLA and are prevented from releasing any information regarding their activities. All of the officials pointed out that SLA stationed in the peninsula took maximum effort to prevent any information reaching the visiting HC.


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