Media continues to be under attack – Post-script to the establishment of SL Press Council

[Link to previuos news on SL Press Council] https://southasiaspeaks.wordpress.com/category/sri-lanka/sl-media/

With local government elections in the North providing yet another good reason for media bashing, local newspapers published in Jaffna has come under another devastating arson attack, according to reports leaking out of the peninsula. All news papers that refrained from carrying an anonymous notice castigating the LTTE and the TNA leadership, were burnt down in bulk before distribution. The notice had been in the name of one ‘Tamil Front Protecting the Country’ and is accepted as linked to a paramilitary group operating with government security forces.

“Thousands of copies of the local newspapers, Valampuri, Uthayan and Thinakkural (Jaffna edition), were burnt down wholesale in huge flames by the armed group allegedly operated by the Sri Lankan military intelligence at Aanaippanthi and Kannathiddi junctions at 5:00 a.m. Thursday, while the newspapers were being taken for distribution” reports the “TamilNet”, a website which reports exclusively on Tamil affairs in Sri Lanka.

Reports from Colombo say Uthayan news paper owner Saravanapavan (Mbl phn +94714115000) living in Colombo had also been threatened. Uthayan news paper has come under severe attacks on many occasions during the past 03 years since President Rajapaksa took office. Its editor N. Vithyatharan (Mbl phn +94714114994) who is also the editor of “Sudar Oli” news paper, was abducted in a white van while attending a funeral of a relative in Mt. Lavinia, a suburb of Colombo, on 26 February, this year. He was later reported arrested by the TID, after he was said to have been dropped off somewhere towards Peliyagoda. He was publicly called a “Tiger Terrorist” by the Defence Secretary himself, while investigations were on by the TID. He was subsequently released by Courts totally cleared of any charges.

Uthayan news paper was awarded the prestigious international award for

With numerous armed attacks on its staff, the editorial office and the press, along with drastic cuts on news print to the Jaffna peninsula and difficulty in distribution, the Uthayan news paper has been compelled to cut its print order by about 70%. An innovative news paper agent who sold 450 Uthayan newspapers earlier and is sent only 60 copies now, keeps a copy of the newspaper pasted at his shop entrance, "so that the readers are not disappointed”.

With numerous armed attacks on its staff, the editorial office and the press, along with drastic cuts on news print to the Jaffna peninsula and difficulty in distribution, the Uthayan news paper has been compelled to cut its print order by about 70%. An innovative news paper agent who sold 450 Uthayan newspapers earlier and is sent only 60 copies now, keeps a copy of the newspaper pasted at his shop entrance, "so that the readers are not disappointed”.

resilience in journalism, by the international organisation “Reporters Without Borders” (RSF) in 2006 December along with a Burmese journal, for working under severe suppression in a war situation. During this period, Uthayan lost 04 of its staff, 02 while at the press office itself, when it was attacked by unidentified gunmen.

It is also said the Free Media Movement (FMM) Convenor. Chulawansa Sri Lal had ruled out any direct government involvement, on the basis that a few days ago Saravanapavan with a few other media personnel had a very cordial meeting over lunch with President Rajapaksa, at the Temple Trees residence.
Meanwhile y’day a young lady from Colombo, Krishni Ifham working freelance to a Tamil publication supposed to be under one Kumar Nadesan, had been abducted in a white van, taken to Kandy and left with Rs. 200 to get back. She has said she had Rs.1,000 with her at the time of the abduction. Her husband is working with the Island news paper. Reason(s) for her abduction is not clearly known, except for the fact that it has something to with a write up she had filed for this Tamil periodical about a fortnight ago. She now refrains from giving details of her abduction to the media or to media organisations.

In another bizarre happening yesterday, a columnist Chandrasiri Bandara who writes on astrology to the Sinhala weekly of the Sunday Leader publications, was arrested late evening from his rsidence close to the parliamentary complex, Sri Jayawardnepura, in Battaramulla and detained by the CID. He is claimed to be a very popular astrologer, working for the Opposition parties.

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