FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

NfR – Networking for Rights in Sri Lanka

Press release/ 27 November 2010

NfR, the exile network for media and human rights in Sri Lanka is shocked and dismayed by renewed threats and violence against independent newspapers published in Jaffna, the Tamil heartland of Sri Lanka.

On the day break of 27th November morning, a gang armed with poles and in a threatening mood was seen in front of the office of the Yal Thinakkural newspaper. The gang had their faces covered and left only after an hour according to a statement by the Center for Human Rights, a rights group based in Colombo. In a highly militarized Jaffna it is almost impossible for any such gang to operate without the tacit support of security forces.

November 27th had been named as the great heroes day and celebrated by the LTTE, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. In the days leading to “great heroes day” this year independent Tamil newspapers in Jaffna received anonymous letters threatening them not to publish any news on the “great heroes day” or cover any events relating to it. Three Tamil newspapers published those letters on 26th which is the day after the letters were received.

Beginning from the year 2006, Jaffna had seen the worst atrocities that took place against the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. That was the year when the last phase of the war started. The International Press Freedom Mission which visited Sri Lanka including Jaffna in 2007, named Jaffna as one of the worst cities for independent media in the whole world.

Even though 18 months have passed after the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) announced the end of war, Jaffna remains under tight control of state security forces making the situation far from normal. The Right to the Freedom of Expression remains one of most suppressed rights in Jaffna. According to reports published by alternative press in Sri Lanka, various public activities by opposition political parties have been banned or disrupted, displaying posters and distributing hand bills strictly censored, public forums and activities by NGOs are threatened or banned.

NfR condemns in the strongest terms all these rights violations of people of Jaffna and urges all local and international democratic forces to take note of this situation. People living in the war affected North and East, including Jaffna have the right to enjoy all human rights enshrined in the United Nations Charter of Human Rights. It is the duty of international human rights community to stand by them and ensure their rights are respected by the GOSL.

Issued by
Executive committee
NfR Sri Lanka

C/O, 19447, Victory Blvd,#2, Reseda,CA 91335, USA NfR.SriLanka@gmail.com

Steering committee : Iqbal MCM ( The Netherlands),Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

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