The circulation manager of Jaffna newspaper ‘Thinakkural’ was hospitalised after being assaulted by a gang of motorcyclists early on Wednesday morning.
46-year-old Sivagurunathan Sivakumar was followed by six individuals, all with their faces covered by helmets, on three motorbikes as he was doing his daily distribution rounds in Jaffna.
Sivakumar recalls being overtaken and stopped by one motorbike, punched in the face by one individual and beaten with metal poles and clubs by the others.
Sivakumar’s motorcycle and the bundles of newspapers which he had been transporting were then set alight by the attackers.
The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) condemned the ‘barbaric’ and ‘malicious’ assault.
In a statement released in Tamil on Thursday, the TNPF said:
“Last month, a distribution worker for Uthayan was attacked in this same style... These attacks have been carried out by forces with no respect for democracy - anti-democratic forces incapable of engaging in discussions and instead trust in cultures of violence and murder."
"The government has unleashed state terrorism on the Tamil people, so that they fear for their lives and cannot demonstrate or speak out against the genocidal acts being undertaken to systematically destroy the presence of the Tamil nation. The Tamil press is bravely trying to bring these activities to the attention of the international community. This isn’t tolerated, and so such attacks are undertaken with the intent of silencing the Tamil press. This assault makes a mockery of freedom and freedom of the press.”
“If the attackers were able to escape, when every nook and cranny in the Jaffna peninsula is under military surveillance, it is highly unlikely that the incident was carried out without the prior knowledge of the army.”