In Sri Lanka, Tamil freelance journalist missing in Jaffna

New York, February 16, 2007—A correspondent for two Jaffna-based dailies, Yarl Thinakkural and Valampuri, has been missing since Thursday evening after he failed to return to his home in the region of Vadamaradchi during a curfew.

His father filed a report with police, who said they are investigating the disappearance, according to local media advocates and news reports.

“We are concerned at the disappearance of Sabramaniam Ramachandran and call on authorities to do everything in their power to locate him and bring him home safely,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

Sabramaniam Ramachandran, 37, has been a freelance correspondent for the two Tamil-language dailies since 2001. Also a part-time teacher, he left his work as a tutor at around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to go home, but never arrived. Vadamaradchi is under dusk to dawn curfew, but Ramachandran was accustomed to arriving home before dark around 7 p.m.

Abductions and political killings are common in Jaffna, and Tamil journalists have been a particular target of physical attack in recent years, according to CPJ research. The threat of violence has severely chilled coverage of human rights abuses in the area, according to Colombo-based Free Media Movement. Conflict between government security forces and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has increased after a 2002 ceasefire collapsed.