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Remembering Nilakshan - The young Tamil journalist who was assassinated

Sahathevan Nilakshan, the up and coming Tamil journalist who was shot and killed by suspected Sri Lankan military intelligence personnel on August 1st, 2007 was remembered today by the Tamil National People's Front (TNPF). 

At a time when the Jaffna district was on lockdown due to a military-imposed curfew, and the city’s streets were heaving with troops, so-called unidentified gunmen were able to approach Nilakshan’s home in Kokkuvil, a busy suburb less than 5km away from town.

The perpetrators forced a friend of the journalist to accompany them to Nilakshan’s home and call him outside, before gunning him down.

Nilakshan studied journalism at the Media Resource Training Centre at Jaffna University. "He was killed just days after returning to the northern city of Jaffna from the capital, Colombo, where he had participated in an internship program along with other journalism students,” noted the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Earlier this year, Nilakshan's mother, Selvarani Sahadevan, passed away without ever seeing justice for her slain son.  

"My son was innocent,” she said at an event in 2018. "The culprits who were behind this killing should be punished. Many Tamil journalists were killed but still there is no justice.”

“His death certificate mentioned that death occurred from brain damage and shock due to the shots,” she added.

To date, no one has been held accountable for the murder. 

Press freedom has been a worrying concern on the island where Tamil journalists have faced reprisals for speaking out against and highlighting issues faced by Tamils in the North-East. They have frequently found themselves targeted with surveillance, threats, acts of violence, and even death. According to Together Against Genocide, from 2004 to 2009, over 48 journalists and media workers were reported killed, 41 of whom were Tamil.

Sri Lanka has dropped 19 places in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index and is currently 146th out of 180 countries.  


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