Batticaloa Tamil journalist harassed by SLA - SLTMA

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 20 August 2003, 05:54 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) Tuesday notified the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Batticaloa about the harassment and humiliation caused to Mr.T.Vethanayagam, a Batticaloa based Tamil journalist, by the Sri Lanka Army, and sought the SLMM's action to investigate into the complaint and prevent such harassment to journalists in future, sources said.

The full text of the SLTMA complaint is given below:

"The Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance is deeply concerned about an incident that took place in Batticaloa in which one our members, Mr.T.Vethanayagam, was subjected to harassment and humiliation in the hands of Sri Lanka Army.

"Mr.T.Vethanayagam was one of the invitees to a soccer match held in the Batticaloa Weber Stadium on August 17, 2003. While he was entering the stadium, the SLA soldiers at the entrance gate obstructed his entry and questioned him for no reason when others were permitted freely. The SLA soldiers also confiscated his national identity card and the Media Accreditation card issued by the Government Information Department.

"Following the timely intervention of parliamentarian Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham and the Batticaloa Municipal Commissioner, Mr.S. Navaneethan, the SLA soldiers allowed Mr.Vethanayagam to enter the stadium and subsequently his National Identity Card and Media accreditation card were returned to him. The whole exercise took more than one and a half hours.

"We feel that this type of harassment during a peaceful atmosphere is a violation of the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution."

Copies of the complaint have been sent to the Prime Minister, Minister of Mass Communication, Minister of Defence, Reporters Sans Frontiers, Centre for the Protection of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, Free Media Movement, Commissioner of Human Rights, Batticaloa district parliamentarian Mr.Joseph Pararajasingham, Batticaloa Municipal Commissioner and the Civil Co-ordinator of the 233rd Brigade of the SLA in Batticaloa, SLTMA sources said.

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