Occupying Colombo’s defence establishment led-by SL presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa plans to start a daily newspaper with the name ‘Thamizh Naatham’ in Jaffna by appropriating the building and assets of the former daily Namathu Eezhanaadu.
The move for the psy-ops war through a new newspaper directly run by the SL military establishment comes in, because of the failure of the EPDP’s Thinamurasu and the Jaffna edition of Thinakaran, run by SL government-controlled Lake House of Colombo in winning the hearts of the masses in the country of Eezham Tamils to the satisfaction of the occupiers, informed sources in Jaffna said. In the late 1980s, the occupying IPKF tried a similar move by running a newspaper ‘Viduthalai’ with the backing of the EPRLF.
Alarmed by the direct move of Gotabhaya and elements behind him, the EPDP has stepped up its media operations by restructuring the advisory committee of Thinamurasu.
The EPDP’s newspaper was organised by canvassing and intimidating the former journalists and media workers of the Vanni daily Eezhanaatham, which was published until the very last days of the Vanni war.
Whatever the efforts were, Thinamurasu, which became a daily from weekly, and Thinakaran’s Jaffna edition could not get the support of the people.
Unable to compete with the Tamil dailies such as Uthayan, Jaffna Thinakkural, and Valampuri in getting the trust of the people, both, Thinamurasu and Thinakaran, continue to run with losses, news sources further said.
There is an understanding that if ‘Thamizh-naatham’ proves successful, Thinamurasu and Thinakaran have to be closed down to consolidate the sales and reach of the SL military-run newspaper.
A five-member group has been now appointed to make Thinamurasu competitive.
The group includes the current editor of Thinamurasu, Sivakumar, founder-editor Stalin of the EPDP and a media person Rushangan.
The new paper is scheduled to commence publication from 18 June in the appropriated building of Namathu Eezhanaadu, located in Naavalar Road in Jaffna city.
The former daily, Namathu Eezhanaadu, stopped its publication after the assassination of its General Manager, C. Sivamaharajah, in August 2006, at his house in Thellippazhai, located very close to SL High Security Zone.
Mr Sivamaharajah, 68-year-old at the time of his killing, was a veteran civil activist, a former TULF parliamentarian and a former chairman of the Thellippazhai Mulit-Purpose Co-operative Society (MPCS). France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in a statement on 21 August 2006, has condemned the killing of the newspaper manager.
The building and assets of Namathu Eezhanaadu, are now completely appropriated by the occupying SL military, alleging that the newspaper was earlier run by the LTTE. No one is prepared to claim the building/assets under the prevailing conditions and there is no media watchdog to challenge the appropriation.