Within the last 9 years, at least 43 journalists and media workers were either killed or disappeared. No investigation pursued – no perpetrator brought to justice.
Free media movement started a campaign on 23rd November commemorating the International Day against Impunity to demand the government to bring perpetrators to justice and establish media freedom in the country. Sri Lanka is ranked 165th in World Press Freedom Index for the year 2014.Click here to see the video.
1) Prageeth Eknaligoda
A cartoonist, a political analyst and a journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda reportedly went missing on his way home after work on 24th January 2010, two days before the presidential polls in Sri Lanka. Immediately after the disappearance, his wife had made complaints at several Police stations and later, at the National Human Rights Commission. No perpetrator brought to justice yet.
The Senior Editor of the “Tamil Net” website and a columnist to “Daily Mirror” and “Veerakesari” newspapers Dharmarathnam Sivaram a.k.a Taraki was abducted by armed men in Colombo on 28th April 2005 and his body was found next day near the Sri Lankan parliament.
He was killed allegedly by para-military operatives working with the Sri Lankan Military Intelligence.
His murder trial is pending at Colombo High Court and perpetrators are still unpunished.
Journalist and the founding Chief Editor of the English weekly ‘The Sunday Leader’ Lasantha Wickramatunga was assassinated on 08th January 2009.
He was repeatedly shot in broad daylight by eight assailants arrived on four motorcycles who blocked his path in a busy Colombo street.
The assassination occurred in a high security zone in the capital, in close proximity to a military Airport and an Air force Base.
His murder trial is still pending at the Mount Lavinia courts.
In the early hours of 6 January 2009, MTV group’s main studio and transmission complex was attacked, ransacked and bombed.
A heavily armed and masked gang of around 20 persons had stormed the premises, located in Pannipitiya just outside Colombo, held the night staff at gunpoint and destroyed the main control room.
Investigations revealed that a Claymore mine was used for the attack. Critics and observers linked the attack to the controversial reporting that was adopted in relation to the capture of Kilinochchi by Government Forces.
The culprits were not identified yet.
5) Mylvaganam Nimalarajan
Jaffna based journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was assassinated by gunmen in a high security zone on October 19, 2000.
He reported for various news organizations, including the BBC’s Tamil- and Sinhala-language services, Tamil language newspaper Virakesari and Sinhala language newspaper Ravaya as a freelancer.
Most believe that he was murdered for his exposure of state repression in the Jaffna peninsula. He was one of the journalists who first wrote about Chemmani mass graves on the outskirts of Jaffna town where about 15 disappeared minority Tamil youth were killed and buried by the armed forces in the mid-1990s.
His murder trial is pending at Jaffna magistrate’s court. Police failed to respond to repeated requests for information regarding the status of his murder investigation and no perpetrator brought to justice yet.
“Udayan” was attacked numerous times in the recent history.
In 1987, the Sri Lankan security forces attacked the Navalar Road in Jaffna, where the Uthayan offices were located, using artillery. Two Uthayan employees were injured and 40 others in the area were killed.
In 1990, the Uthayan’s offices were hit by an air raid killing one employee and injuring five.
on 29 August 1998 a Journalist named Velupillai Thavachelvam was attacked at his home in Sembianpattu, Vadamarachchi.
In 1999 two grenades were thrown into the newspaper’s offices, exploding near the printing machines and injuring security guard S. Selvarajah.
On 20 August 2005, two grenades were thrown into the advertising office of the Uthayan and Sudar Oli in Wellawatte.
Suresh Kumar (B. G. Sahayathasan) and Ranjith Kumar, two employees of the newspaper, were killed on 2 May 2006 when armed men burst into the newspaper’s offices and opened fire indiscriminately.
A delivery driver and an agent named Sathasivam Baskaran was shot dead at the wheel of his delivery truck on 15 August 2006 at Puttur junction near Achchuveli, an area controlled by the Sri Lankan military.
On 18 August 2006, a warehouse in Kopay was burnt down by armed men as a curfew was in place.
Armed men entered the Uthayan offices on 7 September 2006 and ordered staff to publish a statement urging Jaffna’s students to call off their strike, threatening “severe reprisals” if the statement wasn’t published.
On 10 September 2006, two armed men who entered into the Uthayan offices were arrested by the policemen who were guarding the building.
Journalist Selvarajah Rajivarnam, an Uthayan reporter for 6 months prior to his death, was shot dead in Jaffna close to a military checkpoint on 29 April 2007.
A Proof reader, Vadivelu Nirmalaraj was abducted on 17 November 2007 near Jaffna as he returned home after work.
A grenade was thrown into the newspaper’s office in Jaffna on 24 March 2009 causing extensive damage and injuring a security guard.
On 25 June 2009, thousands of copied of the Uthayan, Thinakkural and Valampuri were burnt in the street by armed men, after the papers had refused to print a statement against the LTTE.
A Staff Correspondent of the newspaper, S. Kavitharan was attacked by a group of men on 28 May 2011 as he cycled to work.
On 29 July 2011, the same year, Uthayan’s chief news editor Gnanasundaram Kuganathan was brutally attacked as he walked home from the office in Jaffna.
Nagesh Pratheepan and two other Uthayan distributors were attacked and newspapers torched by four men on two motorbikes on 10 January 2013 as they were distributing them in the Valvettithurai area.
The paper’s office in Kilinochchi were attacked by a group of six masked Sinhala speaking men on 3 April 2013. Five employees were injured, two seriously, and equipment and vehicles damaged.
Ten days later, on 13 April 2013, three men came to the paper’s office in Jaffna and threatened security guards before damaging equipment and setting the printing press ablaze.
No investigation pursued yet.
Trincomalee correspondent for Tamil daily “Sudar Oli,” Subramaniam Sugirtharajan was assassinated on 24 January 2006 in Trincomalee.
His murder trial still pending.
Owner of Jaffna Tamil daily ‘Namathu Eelanadu’ Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah was assassinated inside his house which was 300 metres inside the High Security Zone of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in Tellippalai in Jaffna on August 20, 2006.
The international Press institute has called in for impartial government investigation, no perpetrator brough to justice yet.
9) Poddala Jayantha
A Journalist and the Secretary of Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA) Poddala Jayantha was abducted and assaulted by unknown assailants on 01 June 2009.
A complained was filed by his wife, no perpetrator brought to justice yet.
He was forced to leave the country having received death threats due to his refusal to speak up against threats and intimidation even after the attack.
10) M. I. Rahmathulla
The Editor and the Owner of the provincial Tamil weekly “Vaara Uraikal”, M. I. Rahmathulla was attacked on 31st March 2009 by five strangers who broke into his office. He was beaten with a cricket bat.
His case is pending at Kattankudi Magistrate’s court.
He has also filed a complained with the National Human Rights Commission but no action has been taken to date.