For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the Sri Lankan Government to immediately activate all efforts to locate N. Vidyatharan, editor of the Tamil daily Sudar Oli, who was reportedly abducted from Mahinda Funeral Parlour in Mount Lavinia, Colombo, this morning.
According to local reports, Vidyatharan was attending a funeral when he was forced into a van by people wearing police uniforms.
Police have reportedly confirmed they believe Vidyatharan was abducted but denied police involvement in the attack.
Sudar Oli managing editor Mr Saravanpavan received a call from Vidyatharan about two hours after the abduction to acknowledge he was alive. Vidyatharan did not provide further details.
The IFJ fears Vidyatharanís safety is still in grave danger.
On February 16, Vidyatharan was questioned for more than eight hours by the CCB, a government intelligence unit, in relation to news reports published in Sudar Oli about civilian casualties in the conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Vanni.
Sudar Oli is published by the Uthayan newspaper group which also publishes the Uthayan Tamil daily in the troubled Jaffna region.
Nine staff from the Uthayan newspaper group have reportedly been killed in the past 3 years, a local source said.
ďAll available resources must be employed immediately to search and locate Vidyatharan,Ē IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
ďThere is no doubt that there is a major crisis of safety for all journalists working in Sri Lanka and any attack or threat must be treated as serious and potentially life-threatening.Ē
The IFJ encourages all affiliates and members of the international press freedom and human rights communities to take immediate action by making urgent inquires about Vidyatharanís whereabouts and safety to:
President of Sri Lanka
Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa
Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights
Hon Mahinda Samarasinghe
Tel: +94-11-2681979, +94-11-269-5013
Fax: +94-11-2681978. +94-11-268-1980
Inspector General of Police
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com