FORWARDED APPEAL (Sri Lanka): Illegal arrest and violence against Tamil journalists by security forces in Colombo and Jaffna 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission is forwarding to you an appeal from the Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontiers regarding the arrests and harassment of Tamil journalists by members of the security forces.

It is reported that on December 17 B. Parathipan, a journalist working for the Tamil language daily Thinakkural and his two colleagues, namely Kulukulan and Prameshwaran, were held in custody by security forces overnight after being stopped at a checkpoint in Colombo. Despite presenting identity papers and press cards, the three men were taken to the police custody.

Two days later, three reporters, T. Sabeswaran, Winston Jeyan and J. Jerad – all working for Tamil language dailies – were clubbed by security forces while they were covering student demonstrations in Jaffna. The reporter’s working equipment was also damaged because of the incident.

We urge your intervention in this case. Appropriate criminal charges must be filed against the security forces and policemen involved without delay if allegations are found to be true. The Sri Lankan government must also take steps to ensure that the media practitioners in the country regardless of their origin can carry out their normal duties without the fear of being arrested, attacked and intimidated.

Should you have further questions, please contact the Reporters Without Borders/Reporters Sans Frontiers.

Urgent Appeals programme
Asian Human Rights Commission


Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières
Press release

20 December 2005

Tamil journalists suffering repeated arrests and harassment

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 checkpoint.

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.



Des journalistes tamouls victimes d’incidents à répétition

En l’espace de deux jours, un journaliste tamoul a été interpellé et trois autres ont été agressés par des membres des forces de sécurité. Reporters sans frontières s’inquiète des conséquences pour la presse des vives tensions politiques dans le nord et l’est du Sri Lanka. « Au lieu d’apaiser la situation, la police continue à procéder à des interpellations injustifiées qui ne font que raviver les antagonismes. Les forces de sécurité et les Tigres tamouls (LTTE) doivent garantir la liberté et la sécurité pour les journalistes sri lankais quelque soit leur origine », a déclaré l’organisation.

Le 19 décembre 2005, T. Sabeswaran, Winston Jeyan et J. Jerad, respectivement reporters des quotidiens en tamoul Thinakkural, Thinakaran et Namathu Eelanadu, ont été matraqués alors qu’ils couvraient une manifestation d’étudiants à Jaffna (Nord). Leurs équipements professionnels ont été endommagés.

Le 17 décembre, B. Parathipan, journaliste reconnu du quotidien en tamoul Thinakkural et avocat, et deux autres employés du journal, Kulukulan et Prameshwaran, ont été détenus pendant une nuit, après un simple contrôle de police à Colombo. Bien qu’ils aient présenté leur pièce d’identité et une carte de presse délivrée par les autorités, les trois hommes ont été conduits dans deux postes de police successifs.

Des policiers ont pris des empreintes et des photographies de B. Parathipan et de ses
collègues sans leur fournir aucune explication. L’intervention d’un député tamoul a permis leur libération. Le 15 décembre, des officiers de l’armée avaient perquisitionné les locaux du journal en tamoul Namathu Eelanadu à Jaffna. Ils avaient longuement interrogé plusieurs employés.

— —
Vincent Brossel
Asia – Pacific Desk
Reporters Sans Frontières
5 rue Geoffroy Marie
75009 Paris
33 1 44 83 84 70
33 1 45 23 11 51 (fax)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission

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Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-35-2005
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Torture,