Murdered Tamil journalist Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan was commemorated in Batticaloa this morning, to mark 17 years since his death.
Lamps were lit and flowers were laid in front of a garlanded portrait of the slain journalist in Gandhi Park at a commemoration event organsied by Batticaloa District Tamil Jounralists Union and the Eastern Journalists Union.
Sugirdharajan was murdered just weeks after the Trinco 5 massacre, in which five Tamil students were gunned down on a Trincomalee beachfront by Sri Lanka’s Special Task Force.
Sugirdharajan, who was a journalist at the Sudar Oli paper, had accompanied one of the father of the murdered students, Dr Manoharan to the mortuary and published photos showing the bodies with point-blank gunshot injuries, thereby disproving government claims that the students had been killed by a grenade explosion.
He was shot dead near his home in Trincomalee, whilst waiting for transport to get to work.
In a statement marking his death and 'Black January', the Mullaitivu Press Club (MPC) noted that Sugirdharajan "exposed the truth".
The MPC noted that nearly 50 media workers, most of whom are Tamil, have been killed or forcibly disappeared by the state.
"The whole country is in darkness because governments that grant impunity and privileges to perpetrators without taking any effort to reveal the truth and deliver justice, continue to get elected in Sri Lanka," the MPC added.
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.
Sri Lanka has dropped 19 places in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index and is currently 146th out of 180 countries.