New York, May 2, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s attack on the Tamil-language daily Uthayan. Editor N. Vithayatharan confirmed to CPJ that five masked gunmen killed two employees and wounded at least two others, one seriously, when they sprayed the paper’s office with automatic weapons fire in Jaffna.
CPJ calls on the government to fully investigate the attack and take measures to ensure the security of all media workers as more attacks undermine the increasingly unstable truce since planned peace talks faltered in April. The victims’ full names were not immediately available. Vithayatharan identified them as a circulation manager surnamed Suresh and an assistant surnamed Ranjith.
“President Mahinda Rajapakse and the international members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission overseeing the 2002 ceasefire must address the safety of journalists on all sides of the conflict. Too often journalists aligned with either side of the conflict have been targeted by killers and thugs,” said Ann Cooper, CPJ’s executive director.
“We note that President Rajapakse is scheduled to address an international media freedom conference in Colombo on Wednesday, World Press Freedom Day. He should take that opportunity to pledge his government’s renewed efforts to protect all Sri Lankan journalists,” Cooper said.
On January 24, 2006, an unidentified gunman killed Tamil journalist Subramaniyam Sugitharajah in the eastern port town of Trincomalee. In 2005 senior Tamil journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram and popular Tamil broadcaster Relangi Selvarajah were murdered, while others were threatened. Journalists have not only been caught in feuding between the government and the rebels, known as the Tamil Tigers, but also in conflicts between Tamil factions.