Newspaper distributor attacked in garrison town of Jaffna

Latest in the series of unceasing attack on media and media workers in Sri Lanka, a distributor of the Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper on Thursday (07) has been brutally attacked while the newspaper bundles and the motorcycle he was travelling were burnt down to ashes by an unknown group of men in the military garrison town of Jaffna.

In a pre-dawn attack, one of the distributors of the ‘Thinakkural’ newspaper has been waylaid between Neerveli and Puththoor area by a group of unknown men in motorbikes while he was taking the newspapers for routine delivery.

Over 45000 heavily-armed government soldiers are tightly guarding the Jaffna peninsula and the attack has taken place few hundred meters away from a military base.

Open secret

“He has been brutally assaulted and his motorcycle and the newspaper bundles were reduced to ashes. He has now been admitted to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital for treatment. This is a part of the systematic and consistent attack on media and freedom of expression, especially in the north and the east,” a Jaffna-based journalist told JDS over the phone.

Talking to JDS on condition of anonymity for safety reasons, he said “it is an open secret that the attack was the sinister work of the military intelligence and the paramilitary forces, who are virtually running the daily affairs” in the former war-hit northern Jaffna peninsula.

“Though we, journalists here know very well who is behind the attack, we are forced to remain tight-lipped. The government and its military are hell-bent on silencing the students’ society and the media in Jaffna in the name of national security. This is a part of a systematic and continuous campaign. The statements and condemnations by the international community make no sense in this part of the country,” the journalist said.

'Government & the military responsible'

The attack has come barely within a week after the visit to the island’s north by British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt, who during his stay in Colombo said that “scrutiny from the international community would be even more intense in 2013” as Sri Lanka is set to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Jaffna District Parliamentarian of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), E. Saravanabavan has visited the place where the incident took place and lodged a formal complaint with the Achchuvely police.

Speaking to media from Jaffna hospital complex after visiting the attacked newspaper distributor, he said that the government and “its military Commander of the north, Maj. Gen. Haththurusinghe, who is running the administration here should be held responsible for the attack”.  

“There was a similar attack on the distributor of the Jaffna-based ‘Uthayan’ newspaper on January 10 and this is the second such attack within a month. This is not going to stop with this. The government and its Jaffna Commander, Maj.Gen. Haththurusinghe should take the full responsibility for the series of attacks on the independent media here,” MP Saravanabavan said.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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