A Tamil journalist who was summoned to Colombo by the Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department was today interrogated for three hours in Jaffna and made to sign a statement written in Sinhalese, despite not being able to understand the contents.
Jaffna-based broadcast and print journalist T. Pratheepan faced investigation at Achuveli police station this morning over the broadcast of a politician’s press conference.
The press conference in question took place at the Jaffna Press Club in May, in which Northern Provincial Councillor M. K. Sivajilingam made brief remarks in Sinhalese about genocide remembrance month which were later published by some online Sinhalese news outlets.
Mr Pratheepan was kept in a private interrogation room for three hours and questioned extensively about the press conference, with the CID personnel declaring that the journalist must produce footage of the presser on demand, implying that investigations would continue.
The journalist’s statements were written down in Sinhalese, despite Mr Pratheepan asserting that he did not know the Sinhalese language.
“Even though I requested my statement to be written down in Tamil, this wasn’t taken into consideration,” Mr Pratheepan said.
“Out of fear, I signed the Sinhalese statement,” he added.
Mr Pratheepan initially received two summons to Colombo for questioning last week, but informed CID and police that he was unable to make the minimum 7 hour journey from Jaffna, due to injuries suffered from a recent road accident.
The original summons raised concern among the media community in the North, with the CID headquarters and especially its ‘4th floor’ being notorious for the torture of detainees.
“We see this as a threat to all journalists working the North,” a spokesperson from Jaffna Press Club told Tamil Guardian.
“We are closely monitoring the situation and will be forced to take further action to demand press freedom and ensure the safety of our journalists.”