IFJ welcomes LTTE assurances on media freedom

[TamilNet, Friday, 19 May 2006, 10:43 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers were not behind a warning issued to Tamil journalists employed in Sri Lankan state media, Political Head of the Liberation Tigers, Mr. S. P. Thamilchelvan, told a group of representatives from media watchdogs, trade unions and organisations from South, this week. The meeting was organised after a warning appeared on some Tamil websites in the name of a hitherto unknown group, "Ravana Battalion," after attacks against against Tamil media workers. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said it "welcomes the LTTE assurances on media independence," in a press release issued Friday.

Full text of the IFJ release follows:

Media Release: Sri Lanka
May 18, 2006

IFJ welcomes LTTE assurances on media freedom

The head of the political wing of Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE), S.P. Tamilselvam, has condemned recent warnings to Tamil journalists to resign from state controlled media, during a meeting with journalists representing the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Free Media Movement, the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, and the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum.

The group of journalists met Tamilselven on May 16, 2006, to protest the warnings, which had been posted on websites by the organisation Ravana Battalion in response to recent attacks on Tamil media workers.

Tamilselven categorically denied any association with the warnings, saying the LTTE accept Tamil journalist's right to work in any media organisation they choose, and he assured the group the LTTE would uphold media freedom and would not associate with any of those threats.

The IFJ and the five other journalist's organisations have called for a campaign to transform the state controlled media into an independent public services media, free from any political influence, and cautioned against tit for tat attacks on media and journalists.

"The IFJ is deeply concerned about the assaults on Tamil journalists, however any reactionary attacks will only result in a further segregation of the media and deprive the Sri Lankan people of a fair and balanced press," said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

The IFJ had previously written an open letter to the LTTE to voice concerns about the encouragement or enforcement of resignation for Tamil journalists working for state controlled media.

"The IFJ welcomes LTTE assurances on media independence and will be monitoring actions to ensure journalists rights and independence are respected," Warren said.

"For the last decade the ruling parties have been promising the Sri Lankan people an independent and unbiased public service media, and it is now time for the Sri Lankan government to finally deliver on this promise," he said.

 

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