The letter said that though the press club “expected those who committed these crimes would be brought to justice” with the change of government in Sri Lanka earlier this year, “however, no tangible progress has yet taken place”. “So far those who had been responsible for the killings and abductions of journalists have never been brought to justice.”
Read letter below.
Dear Madam Ambassador Power,
Re: Media freedom and investigation on disappeared and assassinated Tamil journalists
We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your invitation to meet with the Jaffna Press Club during your visit to the North and East.
The Jaffna Press Club is the leading media organisation in the North. We have endured many obstacles and severe challenges, with several of the journalists attached to our organisation facing threats to their life. Some of our colleagues have been abducted, some disappeared and some even killed. We are seen as a forceful voice amidst the attempts to suppress media freedom in the North and East.
The Jaffna Press Club wishes to present the following two issues to you:
1. Many Tamil journalists have been assassinated during the administration of successive governments since 2000. With the assassination of BBC correspondent Mylvaganam Nimalrajan on October 19, 2000 the culture of murdering media personnel reached its climax during the time of the previous government.
In 2007 a Tamil journalist, Subramaniam Ramachandran, was abducted near the Army Camp situated close to his house and so far no news of his whereabouts has been known.
Likewise, many other Tamil journalists have been abducted, killed and disappeared while they were on duty. They have not been heard from since.
During the last phase of the war in Vanni (North), many Tamil journalists while on duty in the Vanni area were abducted, killed or made to disappear. The families of these journalists do not know whether they have been killed or are still alive as prisoners in secret torture camps.
So far those who had been responsible for the killings and abductions of journalists have never been brought to justice. Those responsible are instead able to move about freely in the island as the culture of impunity continues.
2. With the change in government in January 2015 we expected those who committed these crimes would be brought to justice. However, no tangible progress has yet taken place.
It is a known fact that journalists contributed in bringing about change in government. The Jaffna Press Club had requested the President and the Prime Minister to bring perpetrators to justice but so far no concrete answers or actions has been received from them.
In these circumstances we would like to ask you to raise our concerns during your meeting with the Government of Sri Lanka.
The Jaffna Press Club would be grateful if you could kindly urge the present government to show a gesture of good will to protect and promote media freedom, and conduct an independent investigation into abductions, enforced disappearances and assassinations of media workers, through international journalists associations.
Through bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice media freedom can be reinstated. The investigation into the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda is being taken up in the South.
Likewise, similar investigations regarding Tamil journalists who were killed, abducted and made to disappear should be impartially investigated and the perpetrators should be punished irrespective of ethnicity.
Jaffna Press Club