Gunmen force Uthayan to carry their statement

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 September 2006, 10:49 GMT]
Gunmen forced their way into the Jaffna offices of the Uthayan newspaper Thursday evening, threatened the staff and handed over a statement to be published in the newspaper, the Free Media Movement (FMM) said Friday. “The armed group had come in motorbikes. This incident took place during the curfew hours in heavily militarised Jaffna,” the FMM said, quoting details from the Managing Director of the newspaper group, Mr. E. Saravanapavan.

The gunmen warned the editorial staff of dire consequences if the statement is not published immediately, Mr. Saravanapavan, had said.

His editorial staff is fear stricken after the incident at 7.45p.m. Thursday, he said.

The Chief editor of Uthayan, Mr. M. V. Kamylnathan, told FMM that he is forced to carry the statement in next edition of Udayan.

Uthayan staff could not be reached to clarify the contents of the statement.

Sri Lankan military intelligence and their paramilitary allies have stepped up a simmering campaign of terror. Since August 2, over one hundred people have been ‘disappeared’ or shot out of hand on the street.

The Uthayan has repeatedly been targeted by the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP). The paramilitary group-cum political party is a Parliamentary ally of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

“This incident marks another assault of freedom of expression in the war-torn Jaffna peninsula. Udayan newspaper has been under various acts of intimidation and disruption in the recent past,” the FMM said.

“Any person or group or community has the right to get their side of the story published, but attempts to enforce this right by force will lead to suppression of freedom of expression.”

“[But] it is the right of the editorial staff to decide on those matters keeping in mind basic principles of journalism, including accuracy, balance and impartiality.”

“No group has the right to force any media institution to carry what they want.”

 

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