Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said it was “the responsibility of journalists to make the government aware of the real issues endured by the people of the North,” as he met with Tamil Journalists earlier this week at Temple Trees.
During the meeting, Rajapaksa told the journalists that he had implemented “development projects” and the previous regime “failed to provide such a service for the people of the North and East”.
“I mentioned further that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), while claiming to represent the people of the North, replaced their crucial issues with those that enabled their political benefits,” a statement from the Sri Lankan prime minister added.
His statement comes despite TNA leader R Sampanthan praising Rajapaksa, in a letter last month celebrating 50 years in parliamentary politics for the elder Rajapaksa.
Rajapaksa’s message to Tamil journalists comes after, the Sri Lankan government blocked Sankathi24, Tamil news website, without warning or explanation last month. The end of March also saw the brutal attack of a Tamil journalist in Kilinochchi despite a military enforced curfew.
Over the years, press freedom has been a worrying issue on the island and Tamil journalists speaking out against rights abuses have frequently found themselves targeted with intimidation, harassment and worse. According to Together Against Genocide, from 2004 to 2009, over 48 journalists and media workers were reported killed, 41 of whom were Tamil.