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Missing Tamil journalist: octogenarian parents urge international investigation

[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 April 2015, 23:09 GMT]
Eight years have passed since 37-year-old Tamil journalist Subramaniam Ramachandran was arrested by the occupying Sinhala military at Kalikai Junction in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna. One month after the SL military ‘abduction’, France-based media watchdog, Reporters sans frontières (RSF) stated in March 2007 that it was in a position to affirm that the Sri Lankan military participated in the arrest of journalist Mr Ramachandran, who was the Vadamaraadchi regional correspondent for newspapers Valampuri and Yaazh Thinakkural. His 85-year-old father and 83-year-old mother are still languishing without knowing what had happened to their son. Ramachandran's nine and twelve-year-old children have been expecting the return of their father for 8 years, the aged grandparents said in a video interview to TamilNet urging global attention on the plight of their missing son.

Subramaniam Ramachandran
Journalist missing for 8 years: Subramaniam Ramachandran, who was abducted in 15 February 2007
“We want to see him before we pass away,” says his crying mother Mrs Subramaniam. The parents were interviewed at their residence at Thunnaalai East in Karaveddi, Jaffna.

Ramachandran’s father complains that the global media watchdogs have abandoned them and that the domestic investigations would not deliver anything.

“The time for domestic investigations are being extended and extended, but the investigations are yet to reach our area of Vadamaraadchi,” he complained.

According to Mr Subramaniam, his son was stopped by the Sri Lankan soldiers in front of the military camp at the junction on Point Pedro - Kodikaamam Road on the fateful day of February 15, 2007. The neighbours had witnessed his arrest, he said.

“The SL military arrested my son and handed him over to the EPDP for interrogations,” he further says.

“They were waiting for my son at Kalikai. They didn't dare to do it at his tuition centre,” he said.

A few days before the ‘abduction’, Ramachandran had written for the Jaffna daily Yaazh Thinakkural about the involvement of a businessman and Sinhala military officers in illegal sand scooping.

Mr Subramaniam and Mrs Subramaniam
Mr Subramaniam and Mrs Subramaniam, the parents of Tamil journalist Ramachandran abducted by the SL military and the EPDP paramilitary in February 2007

Ramachandran was taken to notorious Pallappai camp of the SL military intelligence, the villagers believe. In August 2013 the SL military, which had vacated from Pallappai, instructed the people not to dig the wells in an attempt to cover up alleged mass graves. SL military (SLA 524 division) was stationed there for more than 14 years since 1999.

The representatives of International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) who visited North recently said the journalists were still being subjected to surveillance and harassment although there was improvement with regards to media freedom. The journalists in Jaffna urged direct role of global media watchdogs in investigating the assassinations and forced disappearances of Tamil journalists.

Although there is some development in the South, especially with regards to the investigations on the assassination of Sinhala journalist Lasantha Wickramatunge and one or two cases of assassinations on Tamil politicians to showcase to the outside world that the new regime is taking the investigations serious, there is no focus at all on the systematic assassinations and abductions carried out on Tamil journalists from North-East, the journalists in Jaffna said.

The crimes committed against journalists in North and East were carried out with a genocidal intent.

Equating the acts of genocide committed against Tamil journalists with the crimes committed in the South that only had the intention of defending the regimes, is a crime practiced by some international outfits, the journalists in Jaffna said.

In the meantime, investigations carried out by the new regime have revealed that a squad of Sri Lanka Navy was deployed by former Defence Secretary and presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in carrying out certain assassinations, including that of Lasantha Wickramatunge and Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian Maamanithar N. Raviraj.

Dozens of cases of missing and assassinated Tamil journalists and thousands of cases of missing Tamil students and youth have not gained proper attention.

The new regime is only interested in smokescreen exercises in order to buy time and space in Geneva with behind-the-scene geopolitical manoeuvrings to nullify the demand for meaningful independent international investigations on the genocidal crimes committed by the Sri Lankan regimes in the past.

“As Tamils mark 10th anniversary of the assassination of TamilNet Senior Editor Sivaram and 15th anniversary of Nimalrajan, the correspondent for BBC and TamilNet in Jaffna, global Tamils should do whatever needed to address this massive imbalance,” a journalist in the island who submitted a detailed report to the OHCHR Investigations on Sri Lanka (OISL) told TamilNet, handing over a copy of his 10-page report submitted to OISL last year.

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