Journalists killed, media censored in Sri Lanka

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Journalists killed, media censored in Sri Lanka

Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo-1, Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 1 333 703
E-mail: for_min@sri.lanka.net

November 24, 1999

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, an independent organization that supports freedom of speech worldwide, to deplore the recent murders of journalists as well as the reported media censorship in your country. The recent reports that your government is considering censoring electronic media by informing them not to provide coverage of the current election campaign is very disturbing. This action would be undemocratic as it limits the ability of the press to do its job. We are also concerned about the recent ban that limits and censors reports of the ongoing war being fought by the government against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Given these reports of censorship, the recent murders of two prominent journalists in your country are even more alarming.

Rohana Kumara, the chief editor of the newspaper Satana, was killed on September 10, 1999 by multiple assailants while driving to his home in Colombo. Kumara's newspaper had developed a reputation for controversy and exposing government corruption.

Atputharajah Nadarajah, the chief editor of Thinamurasu, was gunned down on the morning of November 9, 1999 by an unidentified gunman. Thinamuasu, his weekly newspaper, openly supported Tamil nationalism and the Tamil Tigers. As well as being a prominent journalist, Nadarajah was a member of parliament for the Jaffa district for the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP). The EPDP is a member of the ruling People's Alliance Coalition.

CJFE will be closely monitoring both the situation of media censorship as well as the investigations into the two shocking murders of journalists. We hope that your government will act quickly to deplore these murders and undertake open and fair investigations. We also hope that freedom of the press will be respected as it will be essential in the coming presidential election.

Sincerely,

Kristina Stockwood
Coordinator

Chris Harbord
Program Assistant

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