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Sri Lankan military admits to harassing Tamil journalist

The Sri Lankan military has admitted to detaining and questioning a Tamil journalist, whilst he was reporting on the army’s plans to appropriate land in Mullaitivu last month.

The Commanding officer of the 24th battalion of the Sinha Regiment (24SLSR) Champika Kathriarachchi attempted to downplay the incident, telling Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission that there had been a “misunderstanding” that led to journalist Shanmugam Thavaseelan being held and interrogated for an hour and a half.

When the journalist refused to hand over his camera to be searched, he was taken aside and interrogated by a higher ranking officer, identified as Captain Lahiru Priyadarshana, who implied that his days were numbered and also subjected him to verbal abuse.

“We work in Mulaitivu with the military presence putting a heavy burden on civilian life,” Thavaseelan told the HRCSL.  “The area is full of the type of officers who threatened me. If something nasty happens to me, these officers should be held responsible.”

“We don’t have issues in covering military functions… We face problems only when we go to cover stories of people affected by the militarisation."

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