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North seeks UN support to probe violence against journos (VIDEO)

Activists in Sri Lanka’s north have urged United Nations (UN) to devise a mechanism to monitor acts of violence against journalists and a programme to convey the findings to the international community on a regular basis.

Regional reporters said that north-based journalists, politicians, civil society activists, mothers of the forcibly disappeared, and trade union representatives made this request following a protest staged to demand justice for the recent attack on Jaffna-based freelance journalist Thambithurai Piratheepan’s house.

Three suspects arrested by the Achchuveli police on 18 June in connection with the attack on Piratheepan’s house were granted bail by the court on 19 June. On the same day, the protest organised by Tamil speaking north-based journalists was held in front of the Jaffna Bus Station.

Following the protest, representatives had handed over a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General, to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees office in Jaffna.
They had requested the UN to openly condemn acts of violence against journalists in Sri Lanka, and to take immediate action in order to ensure journalists’ safety.

They requested the UN to support and facilitate independent investigations into attacks on journalists, and to intervene in order to ensure accountability from the responsible parties. In addition, the letter sought equipment and support for programmes aimed at protecting journalists, which require legal assistance, safe houses, security during emergencies, and GPS facilities.

A copy of the letter has been handed over to the Northern Province Governor requesting it be forwarded to President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The letter said that an immediate response is necessary to address violence against journalists in Sri Lanka.

Regional reporters said that the Achchuveli police arrested three suspects on 18 June in connection with the burning of Piratheepan’s house located in Pattameni, Achchuveli, at 12.15 a.m. on 13 June (Thursday). They added that the three suspects, who are residents of Achchuveli, Mavittapuram and Killinochchi in Jaffna, were released on bail after being produced in the Mallakam Magistrate’s Court on 19 June.

During the protest in front of the Jaffna Bus Station, activists representing various organisations in the area held placards that read ‘do not forget that the media is the fourth pillar of democracy,’ ‘we want justice-we want truth,’ ‘truth never dies.’

They chanted various slogans such as “do not oppress-do not oppress-do not oppress media freedom,” “Ranil’s government- Ranil’s government-where is media freedom?,” and “is the premeditated attack on Pratheepan’s house a military intelligence tactic?”.

The letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General demanding immediate measures to address violence against journalists in Sri Lanka had been signed by North-East Association of Relatives of Enforced Disappearances President Yogarasa Kalaranjani, Tamil National Green Movement Leader and former Northern Provincial Council Agriculture Minister Ponnuthurai Aingaranesan, University of Jaffna’s Media Resources and Training Centre’s former Director Prof. Devanayagam Devanan, Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) Leader and former Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) Spokesperson Gurusami Surendran, former Provincial Council Member P. Gajadeepan, former Provincial Council Member S. Sugeerthan, Marxist-Leninist Party’s President S.K. Senthivel, Ceylon Teachers’ Union Vice President Theeban Thileepan, Voice for the Voiceless organisation’s Coordinator Murugiah Komagan, and Angel Quintus representing the transgender community.

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