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JDS commends TNL newsmen for their courageous exposure of police brutality

Journalist for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) highly appreciate the efforts taken by TNL and its Assistant News Editor Sisikelum Dahampriya Balage, to expose the killing of a youth in broad daylight, in the capital of Sri Lanka, allegedly by policemen

On the 29th of October 2009, TNL aired footage of several policemen clubbing a Tamil youth, Balavarnam Sivakumar forcing him to drown to death in the sea, while many civilians watched on passively.

It was reported that police were in pursuit of Balavarnam Sivakumar who was a mentally ill who threw stones at passing trains. The chase ended in a tragic and avoidable death which would have gone unreported had it not been for TNL journalist Sisikelum Balage who filmed it from a nearby high rise building. The coverage aptly exposed the manner how the rule of law is abused in Sri Lanka by those who are chosen and paid to safeguard it.

Earlier in August following the death of Dinesh Tharanga Fernando and Dhanushaka Udaya Aponsu in custody the media and the public expressed their anger that led to the sacking of the police team in Angulana. However, the death of Sivakumar does not seem to have grabbed the attention of the media or the public in such a manner.

While one suspect policeman Dimuthu Somnas has been remanded after being taken into custody, others who were seen committing this crime are still at large. There were no reports of action taken against officers who command those policemen. The president who is in charge of law and order is yet to make any statement with regard to this atrocity.

In a country where police brutality has gone unpunished for decades, we call upon the media and the public to be vigilant and call to bring those responsible for the killing of Balavarnam Sivakumar to justice. The presence of a camera and a keen eyed journalist helped to bring this crime to light. We call upon the concerned citizens in Sri Lanka not to be silent and let the criminals go unpunished. We need to join hands in order to stop the rule of law becoming a rule unto them.

The TNL coverage about this brutality is also a beacon to us journalists in a land where challenging state authorities or exposing their wrongdoings through media is not seen as a comfortable way of reporting events in Sri Lanka. We sincerely hope that media workers in the country will follow the lead and be more courageous to expose the true nature of things in their coverage in time to come.

Well Done TNL! Well done Sisikelum!!

Executive Committee
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

10.11.2009

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Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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