Uthayan Editor threatened by EPDP

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 29 October 2008, 19:47 GMT]
The Free Media Movement (FMM), an independent Colombo-based media watchdog, in a press release issued Wednesday, accused leader of Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) leader Douglas Devananda for threatening Managing Editor of Jaffna Daily Uthayan, and condemned the disruption to the distribution of the paper by the paramilitaries of the EPDP.

Full text of the media release follows:

The Free Media Movement (FMM) is extremely disturbed to receive a letter from the Managing Director, Mr. E. Saravanapavan of the Uthayan daily newspaper printed and published from Jaffna, noting that paramilitary groups in the embattled city were preventing the distribution of the paper and posed a grave risk to the safety and security of newspaper staff.

Armed cadre of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP), a group that is part of the incumbent government and led by Mr. Douglas Devananda, who is a Cabinet Minister, disrupted the distribution of the paper on 23rd October 2008 and prevented newspaper staff from leaving their homes to report to work.

Mr. Saravanapavan notes in his missive that that Mr. Devananda allegedly told him the Army was 'very angry' with Uthayan, for reasons that are not given but not hard to guess. As the International Press Institute (IPI) in an open letter to the President of Sri Lanka on this matter notes, "As one of the very few sources of information for the inhabitants of Jaffna, Uthayan is of vital importance, particularly because it carries news about the security situation in the province. In times of conflict and other dangerous situations, the importance of access to timely and accurate information and news is undeniable."

Uthayan has operated in the embattled peninsula under extremely challenging circumstances. It's staff live in fear of death and some are virtual prisoners in the offices of the newspaper. In January, Mr. Saravanapavan received death threats over the phone. As the RSF notes in their 2008 Annual Report, "A gunman on a motorbike killed a young reporter, Selvarajah Rajivarnam, who was riding his bike near the office of Jaffna's biggest selling daily Uthayan at the end of April. He covered criminal cases, going into police stations and the hospital to obtain information about murders and disappearances. Several sources in Jaffna said members of the EPDP could be behind the killing."

The FMM regards the disruption of Uthayan's distribution and the overt pressure on staff to refrain from working as attacks against the freedom of expression and the worst kind of strong-arm tactic, tellingly by a constituent party of the incumbent government, to stifle independent media.

We call for the President's urgent attention into this matter, and hold Mr. Devananda directly accountable for any action taken by the EPDP against Uthayan and its staff. Only strong condemnation of brutish measures to curtail the freedom of expression can assure a skeptical public of the bona fides of this regime to strengthen media freedom in Sri Lanka.

Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka


Latest 15 Reports
12.10.19 22:23   Photo
Monks step up campaign against Muslims, want to carve out Sinhala colony in Ampaa'rai
11.10.19 22:07   Photo
Vote for Self-Determination, reject major candidates for more effective boycott
10.10.19 23:31   Photo
SL Police intensifies restrictions on Saiva devotees at disputed ‘chaitya’ hilltop in East
09.10.19 20:17  
Indian Coast Guard trespassed into waters off Jaffna, 18 fishers detained since 03 October
08.10.19 18:43  
Divisional Secretary, TNA MPs must act to release Chegnchoalai lands: civil activist
07.10.19 23:12   Photo
Heinous act by HRCSL: former orphans of Chegnchoalai on the brink of losing lands
06.10.19 12:21  
EPDP joins Jaffna protest against desecration of Neeraaviyadi temple
05.10.19 22:06  
Families inheriting lands from parents refused of land registration in Moothoor East
04.10.19 21:50  
SL Archaeology, Police continue to disturb Tamils’ right to worship at Vedukku-naa'ri hilltop
03.10.19 19:16  
Raghavan plans to distribute uncultivatable lands to Tamils to compensate for loss of fertile lands
02.10.19 22:28   Photo
No place for human rights in China’s white paper for future world
01.10.19 18:26  
Genocidal Sri Lanka hits back at UN, claims it passed ‘litmus test’ on human rights in 2019
30.09.19 20:49  
SL military, police, traders, exert pressure on civil authorities in Mannaar to alienate lands
29.09.19 18:19  
No to alternative lands, original lands must be released with compensation, say Tamil activists
28.09.19 13:24   Photo
SL State-owned paper refuses to publish condemnation issued by Hindu Congress
Find this article at: