Tamil journalists condemn slander

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 June 2004, 14:59 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and the East Lanka Journalists’ Association (ELJA) Tuesday condemned what they described as “attempts in a section of the Colombo to discredit independent Tamil journalists”. Referring to a report in the Tuesday edition of ‘The Island’, an English language daily published from Colombo, a spokesman for the ELJA said, “the paper refers to us as ‘supporters of LTTE leader Pirapaharan’. This is a dangerously mischievous report aimed at discrediting us and thereby justify the intimidation and murder of eastern journalists”.

“The report strives to spread the impression that the Karuna Group wants to murder us because we are supporters of the Liberation Tigers. This is rubbish. I work as the correspondent for the state owned Tamil daily ‘Thinakaran’ and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Our job is to just report the truth.

"This campaign to discredit us is part of a broader scheme to silence us”, said Mr. Rasaiah Thurairatnam, President of the SLTMA.

“Black propaganda against Batticaloa journalists is being spread through websites run by a fictitious Karuna group and other paramilitaries with the backing of the Sri Lanka army intelligence.

"A section of Sinhala nationalist media are co-ordinating their reporting on the Karuna issue with these surreptitious websites. Soon after senior journalist Nadesan was shot dead, one of these websites carried a malicious report in Tamil slandering the journalist and blackening his name. The report blatantly justified his murder.

"A similar report appeared in a Sinhala nationalist English daily in Colombo shamelessly justifying Nadesan’s murder. This black propaganda to justify the obvious plans by the intelligence to murder more independent Tamil journalists from Batticaloa should be exposed forthwith by all those who stand up for the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka," said Mr. Shan Thavarajah, the general secretary of the East Lanka Journalists’ Association.

“The predicament of independent Tamil journalists in Batticaloa is so bad that we could not even hold Nadesan’s last rights in the town. People were threatened and prevented from paying their last respects to him in Batticaloa.

"Is ‘The Island’ condoning attacks on Tamil journalists? Even if a journalist upholds a certain political point of view, it is the duty of other media to defend his or her right to do so even if they criticise or condemn that position. But racism appears to run so deep that instead we are faced with malicious slander in a section of the Colombo media to justify the murder and intimidation of Tamil journalists," said Mr. Thavarajah.


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