For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The Jaffna Security Forces (SF) Commander, Mahinda Hathurusinghe, has threatened legal action against the Jaffna District Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian and the Uthayan newspaper publisher, E. Saravanabawan, for false reportage.
News reports in the Uthayan and Thinakkural newspapers had allegedly accused the government and the Army of being responsible for the attack on the Thinakkural distributer in Kopay last week, and held the Jaffna Commander responsible for the attack. Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe, holding a press conference at his office in Palaly yesterday, claimed Saravanabawan had accused the Army personnel of being involved in the attack, which also saw a bundle of newspapers and the motorcycle the distributor was riding set on fire.
Deeming the accusation against the Security Forces in Jaffna by the TNA parliamentarian as unacceptable, Hathurusinghe warned he would consider taking legal action against the MP.
Earlier, the Army, issuing a press release said the Security Forces will initiate appropriate legal action with regard to inaccurate, false reportage. It said there was no truth to the reports and that as revealed through preliminary inquiries, the attack had been the result of a private dispute.
Hathurusinghe said the reports had inaccurately mentioned the attack had taken place near an Army camp, although the nearest camp is several kilometers away from the place of the incident.
Outlining the necessity of the media in Jaffna to support the peace efforts in the region, he said the army has not come down to the level of undermining freedom of expression. “The Security Forces in Jaffna are doing their best to create a peaceful atmosphere in the region,” he said, questioning, “Why has the parliamentarian spoken against the Army in Jaffna?”
Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe also said those who could not tolerate the good work the Security Forces are doing in the North are all out to damage the rapport between the civilians and the Security Forces.