( Original photo from Vikalpa.org)
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Hundreds of journalists and media rights activists protested on Friday to demand Sri Lanka’s new government start a fresh investigation into the abduction and killing of a prominent ethnic Tamil journalist 11 years ago, during the country’s civil war.
Those demonstrating in front of Colombo’s main railroad station said Dharmeratnam Sivaram was targeted because of uncompromising coverage of political and military matters.
Media rights activist Lasantha Ruhunage said even 11 years after, the law enforcement authorities have failed to find the killers and “therefore they should start a fresh investigation and bring the culprits before law.”
Sivaram was found dead on April 29, 2005, in the capital, Colombo, after being abducted the previous evening.
The 30-year civil war ended in 2009 after government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, who fought to create a separate state for minority Tamils. Scores of journalists and media workers were killed during the war, and several dozen journalists fled the country.
The government has promised to implement a compensation plan for 44 journalists and other media workers killed under the former government, but Ruhunage said “more than compensation, the attacks on journalists, media workers and media institutions should be properly investigated and those responsible for the attacks should be punished, in order to ensure justice to the media community.”
The new government that came into power last year promised to ensure media freedom and to investigate attacks on media under the previous government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost last year’s presidential election. While Rajapaksa was in power, a prominent opposition newspaper editor and scores of journalists were killed and some others were assaulted while some private TV stations were attacked.