Uncertainty over journalists' arrests

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Officials from the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), of the Sri Lankan Police have said that the two Tamil journalists who were recently taken into custody were arrested for reasons not related to their work, said sources.

However, no reasons for their detention have so far been revealed.

The foundation for Freedom of Expression has expressed concern about the detention of the journalists.

A communique issued by the organisation has urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the Minster of Telecommunication and Media and other authorities to conclude inquiries and issue their speedy release, if there is no cause for further detention.

It has also urged that the journalists should not be threatened, intimidated, harrased or subjected to any violence while in the police custody.

The Editors Guild called upon the Government to hold an inquiry and to make a statment on the circumstances that lead to the arrests.

Meanwhile, Varuna Karunathilake of the Free Media Movement said that his organisation could not do any thing regarding the arrests of the journalists as they were not arrested for their journalistic work.

In the past week two Tamil journalists and a Tamil senior government official have been arrested and taken into custody, said Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, MP for the eastern Batticaloa district, when contacted by TamilNet.

Mr. P Manikkavasagam, a senior journalist with the Veerakesari, the Tamil daily with largest circulation in the island, was arrested by the Sri Lankan police in Vavuniya. He also contributes for Reuters, the BBC world service.

Last Thursday, Mr. Sri Gajan, who is also a journalist for the Veerakesari was arrested. The attorny general's office issued yesterday a detention order for 7 days.

'He was taken into custody at 8.30 p.m. by officers of the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), a newly formed police unit', said Mr. Pararajasingham.

A day earlier a senior government official was arrested the MP went on to say.

'On the previous day that is the 15th, Mr. S. Theivanayagm was taken into custody in his office. He is the Assistant Director of Hindu Cultural Affairs' Mr. Pararajasingham went on to say.

Hindu Cultural Affairs comes under the Ministry of Cultural and Religious Affairs.

The arrests of Mr. Sri Gajan and Mr. S. Theivanayagm have been brought to the attention of the parliament said Mr. Pararajasingham.

'I have spoken to the chairmen of the Anti harassment Committee, Minister Lakshman Jeyakody, and have also written a letter to the committee,' he said.

'The committee has asked for a report from the IGP (Inspector General of Police),' he added.

"The reason for these arrests are unclear. I have spoken to the DIG ( Deputy Inspector General) in charge of the Terrorist Investigation Department, Mr. Pararajasingham said.

'The DIG said to wait till this Friday' the MP added.

 

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