RSF slams curbs on Trincomalee reporters

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 August 2006, 18:17 GMT]
Sri Lankan security forces prevented journalists, including some from the BBC, from accessing Muttur town Monday amid reports that 17 aid workers had been shot dead, a media watchdog said Tuesday. “One foreign journalist told Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that many Sri lanka army roadblocks also stopped the media getting to places that were far from any fighting,” RSF said. The LTTE has shown “no interest in allowing independent journalists to report from the areas they hold,” RSF also said.

“All journalists said the restrictions made it very hard to report on the fighting and have access to the victims,” RSF said.

“Since fighting broke out in the Trincomalee area, several Sri Lankan and foreign journalists have been barred from strategic towns, including Muthur, by the Sri Lankan army, which has also kept them out of LTTE-controlled areas that are now inaccessible by land,” RSF said.

“The rebels have shown no interest in allowing independent journalists to report from the areas they hold and during the attack on Muthur (a mostly Muslim town) they refused access to relief workers as well,” RSF said.

"We know some parts of the country have become very dangerous because of the war but the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must not in any circumstances use this as an excuse to stop local and foreign media moving around and investigating the true situation in the east and north of the country," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The organisation noted that Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, correspondent for the Tamil-language daily Sudar Oli in Trincomalee, was murdered on 24 January, the day after an article by him appeared about the brutalities of Tamil paramilitary groups. Despite promises, no official investigation of the murder has been made.

Reporters Without Borders is “extremely concerned about the plight of Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese journalists in the Trincomalee area” and said both the fighting and targeted killings put them in a "very dangerous" situation and that "once again their right to keep the public informed is being violated."

"We are living in fear," RSF quoted one journalist in Trincomalee as saying. "Our job is to report but we do so at the risk of our lives. All the restrictions prevent us from talking to the war's victims."


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