Tamil families of the missing held demonstrations in Vavuniya yesterday, demanding that the Sri Lankan government assurance the security of Tamil journalists, who have recently faced increased harrassment and intimdiation from the security forces.
The protests follow the distressing increase in threats and intimidation of journalists, since accused war criminal Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appointed Sri Lanka’s president in November 2019. Most recently, Tamil journalists were targeted and issued with threats of "death punishment" in Batticaloa.
The families demonstrating on the road-side are on their 1073rd-day of protest. At around 1:30 pm on Monday, they took to the same site they have been protesting for almost 3 years at the front of the Road Development Authority in Vavuniya.
They held placards with messages that said;
Journalism is the backbone of democracy. Oppressed journalism would pave the way to the dictatorship of military rule.
The families also requested that the state provide answers regarding the fate of their loved ones who were forcibly disappeared. Many clutched pictures of their missing loved ones and also continue to hold international flags calling for foreign intervention in finding further infromation on their whereabouts.
They were heard chanting and demanding that the Sri Lankan state answer to the wehereabouts of disappeared individuals and to ensure the safety of Tamil journalists is not further compromised.
"Where are our children?" and "Ensure the security of the Journalists" were amongst the slogans heard during the demonstrations.
The treatment of Tamil journalists has been scrutinised by the international press freedom organisations and last week RSF called for “proper police protection” and a “thorough investigation” following the Batticaloa incident, and the rising amounts of harrasment and intimidation prevailing in the North East against Tamil journalists.