FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Sri Lanka: The re-immergence of fear psychosis the Jaffna District – NfR

Ketheeswaran Thevarajah

NfR Press release/ 03.01.2011

NfR expresses its serious concern  about the deterioration of the law and order situation in  the Northern Districts of Sri Lanka.  The series of killings that have taken place during the last few weeks in the Jaffna Peninsula  raises the  question  whether   death squads  have been reactivated in the  Jaffna Peninsula.
The latest in the series of killings,  is the cold blooded murder of 28 year old  Ketheeswaran Thevarajah  of Jaffna  on 31st  December 2010. This is the fifth such killing that has taken place in Jaffna within last two weeks. None of  these  killings   have been seriously investigated or  resolved,  so far.

According to reports appearing  in the news media  Thevarajah,  who was a postal worker in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna,   had been  shot by armed men who entered the house where  he was staying  that night.  He  had later succumbed to the gun shot injuries.

There has been no other apparent reason for this killing him  of a  civic  conscious activist.  Some news media has reported that the killers had asked him to open his page on the  face book and shot him at point blank range.

Mr. Thevarajah,   had posted photographs on his face book on the environmental damage caused  by sand excavation in his village. According to news reports, he had provided reports to Jaffna media on the same issue.  Looking at  this matter in that  context, it is obvious  that this killing  is also  another  in the series of  killings to restrict the  ‘freedom of expression’ in Sri Lanka.

Excavation of sand illegally  from   sand dunes  in the Jaffna district by politically powerful  persons,  had become a public issue recently.  A few months ago  there had been public protests  over this matter.   People   alleged that   a pro-government para military  force of a political party is responsible  for the illegal excavation of sand in the area.

Whatever   the reason may be,  it is clear that the killers were from an  organized gang and were able to get  away without any problems, after the shooting.  The killing of Mr. Thevarajah,  taken together with the other recent murders in that region,  raises the question whether the much feared death squads are being reactivated in Jaffna to stifle dissenting civil voices and tightening the governments control of the population of that area.   Putting the blame on unknown persons  as being responsible for such incidents  cannot be accepted taking into consideration the fact that the Jaffna Peninsular is strictly under the control of the  military.   It appears that  Jaffna is  already engulfed in an evolving  fear psychosis similar to what was  in vogue during the infamous ‘period of terror’  (the beeshana samaya) in the South  from about the middle of  1985 to 1995,  when thousands Sinhala youth were abducted, killed or had disappeared under identical circumstances.   This raises the second question,  whether  the creation of  a fear psychosis has become the government’s  strategy  to  keep the  Tamil people under tight political control?

NfR would like to emphasize  that such a strategy is bound to fail. We urge the  government of Sri Lanka which has the Northern and Eastern Provinces  firmly under its control,  to take immediate steps  to reassure the safety and security of the  people  living in those areas and  restore the rule of law.

Issued by

Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

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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