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Press freedom in Sri Lanka - Police snatch a newspaper during hunger strike

A Sri Lankan police officer has been caught on video snatching a newspaper from a Tamil protestor as a hunger strike was underway in Jaffna this weekend.

The incident took place during a hunger strike that commemorated Lt Col Thileepan, the LTTE political leader who fasted to death 33 years ago. Despite Sri Lankan attempts at banning commemoration of his sacrifice, events took place across the North-East this weekend, amidst intimidation from the security forces.

In Jaffna, whilst police officers intimidated protestors, one was captured on video seizing a newspaper from the hands of a reader. The newspaper, Uthayan’s Sunday edition “Sanjeavy”, carried a full front-page feature on Lt Col Thileepan.

“Police seize newspapers during a peaceful fast in Jaffna,” tweeted ITAK leader Mavai Senathirajah. “There are interference in the fundamental rights of the peoples freedom to read.” 

The officer eventually returned the seized newspaper after complaints from fellow protestors.

The latest incident comes amidst a climate of increased repression in the North-East and a clamp down on media by the Sri Lankan state.

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