October 19, 2016
Today, 16 years have passed since our colleague Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was assassinated. Along with the lack of justice for hundreds of thousands of Tamil people massacred in the Tamil homeland in the island of Sri Lanka, there has similarly been no justice for journalists and media workers, including Nimalarajan.
The culture of assassinating Tamil media workers, which began with the killing of Nimalarajan, has resulted in the disappearance or deaths of 41 journalists and media workers. Until now the Sri Lankan government has been silent on all these cases. This government, which portrays itself as that of ‘good governance’, is attempting to show that it has begun investigating the killing of media workers by announcing investigations into the death and disappearance of our colleagues in the South, Lasantha Wickrematunge and Prageeth Eknaligoda. However, as even these investigations waver this government is not yet prepared to announce even a nominal investigation into the killing of Tamil journalists and media workers.
Even when Northern journalists have on several occasions put forward petitions to the Sri Lankan president, prime minister, media minister and Inspector General of the Police, these petitions have been simply discarded.
In the middle of this year all the media organisations in the North made a good-will visit and met with the Sri Lankan president, prime minister and media minister in parliament, and once again put forward a demand that an investigation with the involvement of international media organisations into the deaths and disappearances of all journalists and media workers must begin. However, the president and prime minister have remained silent. This illustrates this government’s lack of interest in the investigation that we called for. It reinforces doubt over whether this government is protecting those responsible for the killing and disappearance of Tamil journalists and media workers, allowing the culprits to continue to roam freely till now. This action has also strengthened the widely emerging opinion that this government too would not deliver justice.
It is incorrect to point to the recent climate where North-East journalists and media workers are able to work, as a reason to avoid discussing such an investigation. In particular, a climate where culprits do not face justice cannot guarantee return to the previous disturbing environment will not recur.
This has been wholly revealed by incidents instigated against Tamil media workers this year and last year, even under the new government.
Moreover, allegations of elected Tamil parliamentarians preventing Tamil journalists and media from working freely have been strengthening. Whilst the government seeks to portray the introduction of the Right to Information bill as an achievement, these politicians do not want people to know what takes place in an ordinary district development meeting. These emerging developments are seriously affecting the aspect of democracy. These are not qualities of one who is to represent their people. Additionally, the exertion of pressure and power on media organisations is not justifiable.
This government, which portrays the introduction of the Right to Information bill as an achievement, but meanwhile systematically holds it back, reveals its real intentions.
Today, on behalf of all the media organisations of the North-East, we once again put forward our demands to the world and to the Sri Lankan government:
– An urgent investigation with the involvement of international media organisations into the massacre and disappearance of media workers and journalists;
– Assurances at all levels for the freedom of journalists to carry out their duties freely;
– Immediate implementation of the Right to Information Bill.