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CPJ condemns harassment of Tamil journalists

File photo of Secretary of Batticaloa Tamil Journalist Association, Selvakumar Nilanthan

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the summoning of the Secretary of the Batticaloa District Tamil Journalist Association, Selvakumar Nilanthan, by Sri Lanka’s counter-terrorism investigation unit yesterday.

“Authorities must cease harassing him and allow him to report freely”, maintained the CPJ.

This latest arrest comes as international organisations, dedicated to press freedom, continue to raise alarm over Sri Lanka’s deterioration in human rights. Reporters Without Borders has specifically called out Sri Lanka’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for his role in the white van abduction of journalists and labelled him a “predator of press freedom”.

“The interrogation of Sri Lankan journalist Selvakumar Nilanthan—including demands for access to his social media and bank accounts–adds to the pattern of harassment of Tamil members of the press and needs to stop immediately,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities must cease trying to intimidate Nilanthan and allow him and all other Tamil journalists to report freely.”

See full statement here.

Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) recorded that as least 44 journalists had been killed or disappeared from 2004 to 2010 alone. Most of those journalists were Tamil (41) and from the North-East. The true figure is thought to be much higher.

Earlier this year the former Sri Lankan MP Karu Jayasuriya said at least 117 journalists have been killed of have disappeared since 1981 and an "innumerable number have been subjected to great repression".

Read more here.

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