Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay about the cost to the
press of heightened political tension in the country where over a
two-day period one Tamil journalist was arrested and three others
assaulted by members of the security forces.
"Instead of calming down the situation, the police and the army are
carrying out unjustified arrests that only stir up resentments. The
security forces and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) should guarantee the
safety of Sri Lankan journalists whatever their origin," the
international press freedom organisation said.
Reporters T. Sabeswaran, Winston Jeyan and J. Jerad, working
respectively for the Tamil language dailies Thinakkural, Thinakaran
and Namathu Eelanadu, were clubbed while covering a student
demonstration in the northern city of Jaffna on 19 December. Their
work equipment was also damaged.
Two days earlier, on 17 December, B. Parathipan, a lawyer and
renowned journalist working for the Tamil language daily Thinakkural
and two other staff at the newspaper, Kulukulan and Prameshwaran,
were held in custody overnight after being stopped at a Colombo
Even though they produced their identity papers and press cards
issued by the authorities, the three men were taken successively to
two police posts.
Police officers took fingerprints and photos of B. Parathipan and
his two colleagues without giving them any explanation. They were
only released after the intervention of a Tamil parliamentarian.
Army officers searched the offices of Tamil newspaper Namathu
Eelanadu in Jaffna on 15 December and conducted lengthy
interrogations of several staff.