Taraki’s Assassination & Press Freedom

by Wakeley Paul

The recent assassination of ‘Taraki’ raises serious questions about press freedom in Sri Lanka. Suppressing opponents of the government can take several forms; brutally killing them is the most unforgivable and unacceptable.  The country has had a long and troubled history with press freedom.  This incident heightens that reality.

Sinhalese governments have always inclined toward the refractive analyses of facts, bent to suit their readers.  That is fine, so long as they can also tolerate and listen to such stern watchdogs as Taraki was of the plight of the Tamil community on the island.  He looked into the center of government activity from the Tamil periphery; as we Tamils remained unceasingly pushed away into the corners by the Sinhalese centrists.  The government seems to have resented the fact that he presented that perspective with steely conviction.

While the political atmosphere of the island remains unsettled, this incident can only amount to a damaging setback in Tamil - Sinhalese relations.  Taraki's assassination can only be described as a terrible political blunder, which would sharply heighten the sense of grievance among the Tamils.

The President and her henchman may not care.  They may even view this assassination with a sense of relief; but sharp and critical analyses of their misdeeds will not cease to go unnoticed.  We only hope that more assassinations are not their answer.

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Posted May 5, 2005