Sri Lanka: Tamil journalist harassed by police twice in two days [UPDATED]

A journalist in eastern Sri Lanka in being continuously intimidated by police who had visited his house twice within two days, soon after the UN high commissioner released a damning report on Sri Lanka's human rights performance.

On Tuesday (2), police arrived at Tamil journalist Punniamoorthy Sasikaran's home in Mamangam, Batticaloa claiming to deliver a court order. The journalist refused accepting it as he had already visited by the police a day before.

"I will accept this document only if it says that I am being restrained as a journalist from reporting an event" he told the police.

Earlier on Monday (1) police visited the journalist to hand him a court order restraining organisers from moving forward with a peaceful march planned for 3rd of February.

The police had no answer when Sasikaran questioned them why he is being served a court order when he is only doing his job as a journalist.

“I am a media person, why is the order being served on me?” he asked.

Locals say serving the court order on the journalist is an apparent effort to gag the media.

'Black ribbon' protest

Tamil war victims’ families have planned a three-day peaceful ‘black ribbon protest’ and a march from the east to the north to coincide with the government’s Independence Day celebrations.

The march was planned to start on Wednesday from Pothuvil in the eastern Amparai district to end on the sixth at Polikandy in the northern Jaffna district.

It aimed to highlight the anguish of the families whose members were victims of forced disappearances.

The Kaluvanchikudi magistrate accepted the petition of the local police official and issued the restraining order.

“The officer in charge of the Kaluvanchikudi Police station in his report to court said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) along with other people are organising a protest instigating people against the government about the alleged human rights violations when the Geneva session will be underway, risking the rapid spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and dividing the community on religious lines,” said the court order.

Apart from Journalist Sasikaran the restraining order has also been served on TNA MP’s from Batticaloa Shanakiyan Rasamanickam and Kovindam Karunakaram.

The TNA spokesperson and MP, M.A Sumanthiran told journalists in Vavuniya on Sunday that they would support the planned protest and participate in it while boycotting the state celebrations.

The court order was served to the journalist at his house by the local police officials who were caught on camera said they were instructed to serve the order.

Journalists & Bishops

Meanwhile, the police have moved courts in to extend the restraining order on many others who were planning to participate in the three-day peace march from East to North to highlight the plight of Tamil war victims.

More than 30 persons have now been issued court order by the police in person. Activists say the number could be much higher.

Reports reaching JDS from Eastern province have confirmed that journalists Selvakumar Nilanthan and R. Sayanolipavan, head of Batti News had also been issued court orders.

Nilanthan is serving as the secretary of the Eastern Province Tamil Journalists' Union.

Apart from the three journalists, Bishops of Trincomalee and Batticaloa, Christian clergy, past and present parliamentarians, local body representatives, Tamil opposition party officials, fishermen and office bearers of traders associations have been ordered not to take part in the peaceful march.

A restraining order seen by JDS cited ‘endangering public health during the rapid spread of the Corona pandemic’ as the reason for its act.

Yesterday court stayed the 'Black Ribbon' protest march citing "causing disharmony among communities, instigating the public against the government and the Covid-19 pandemic."

Sri Lanka is under intense pressure from the Human Rights organisations and the international the community about their failure to address accountability issues into allegations of war crimes.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.