Media

'Uthayan' newspaper office in military garrison town attacked

At least four media workers were injured when an unknown group of men stormed a Jaffna-based newspaper office in the military garrison town of Kilinochchi in the early hours of Wednesday, media sources in the Northern Jafffna peninsula said.

“The delivery team was unloading the newspaper bundles from the vehicle at the Uthayan office at Karadippokku junction, located on the Jaffna-Kandy main supply route in Kilinochchi, when the attackers, hiding in the adjoining bushes and building unleashed the attack using poles and stormed them. Four media men were seriously wounded in the attack. They have also smashed the computers and other equipment before fleeing the area,” the sources told the JDS from Jaffna over the phone.

The attacked media men have been admitted to the Jaffna base hospital with serious injuries.

The attack on the media outlet has come exactly five days after the military intelligence personnel attacked the political party office of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) when the party’s top parliamentarians were holding a meeting with the local populace in the former politico-military headquarters of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The windscreen of the delivery van has also been badly damaged in the attack. 

'Attackers linked to military'

“This is yet another systematic and barbaric attack on the media in general and Uthayan newspaper in particular. Who will have the guts to carry out such a merciless attack on a broad day light in the heavily-guarded Kilinochchi town, which has the largest military presence in the country? The attackers have obviously got the permission and protection from the top defence authorities,” the sources said.

The Uthayan newspaper prides itself on reporting matters that are usually shunned by other news organisations elsewhere in the country. It is the only Tamil newspaper which has not ceased publication in the war-ravaged northern Jaffna peninsula despite a three-decade long civil war.

The tabloid newspaper whose proprietor is a now TNA parliamentarian, has come under attack several times in the previous years by pro-government paramilitary and other government forces. Several journalists and other staff had been killed during these attacks, but the perpetrators still remain at large with no attempt being made to bring them before justice.

Sri Lanka holds one of the worst records in the world for press freedom and journalists’ safety. According to the detailed information gathered by the JDS, the government and its paramilitaries stand accused of killing at least 39 journalists and media workers since May 2004.

© JDS

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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