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'Forgotten' Tamil journalist remembered 35 years on from assassination

Assassinated Tamil journalist, Ganapathipillai Thevarasa was remembered on December 25th, 35 years after his death. 

The event took place at the Eastern Journalists Union office in Batticaloa with the presence of journalists from the Eastern province and Ganapathipillai Pakiyarasa, a retired poet and brother of the deceased senior journalist.

Floral tributes and a flame were lighted in remembrance for Thevarasa. In his speech at the remembrance event Pakiyarasa stated:

“As far as I am concerned it is very heartbreaking that some media outlets cover up the truth. The name of Ganapathipillai Thevarasa is not included in the list of murdered journalists in Sri Lanka; however my brother Ganapathipillai Thevarasa was the first to be assassinated in Sri Lanka.

On December 23, 1985, many areas in the Amparai district including Akkaraipattu, Alayadiwembu, were rounded up by the military. That is when my brother Thevarasa was caught and taken to the Kondavattuvan camp where he was kept. After many attempts via Ranganayaki Pathmanathan, the then District Minister and Member of Parliament for the Pottuvil constituency, our brother could not be rescued. Later on December 25, the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation announced that Thevarasa was reported to have been assassinated.

It is painful to think of this. My brother was assassinated by the army in Kondavattuvan, Amparai because he was a journalist. From 1981 to 1985 he was a prominent figure in the media. Author of several articles, had he not been assassinated then, he would have exposed many more issues through the media. Current journalists should tell the world that the first journalist to be assassinated in Sri Lanka was Ganapathipillai Thevarasa.”

Sri Lanka’s extensive history of crimes against journalists has repeatedly been criticised by international human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.  

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