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Sri Lankan police assault Tamil journalist in Mullaitivu

A Tamil Guardian journalist, K. Kumanan, was assaulted by the police officer in charge of the Kokkilai police station in Mullaitivu after he went to Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar temple to report on the lack of progress in fulfilling a court order to remove CCTV cameras. 

The officer was reported to have verbally abused him; thrown his camera; taken photos of him; and has physically assaulted him.

Buddhist monks have been illegally occupying the temple and have changed the name of the temple from "Neeraviyadi Pillaiyar Temple" to "Vishnu Devalaya Katharagama". On May 6, the Mullaitivu court ordered the police to return the temple to its original name. The police failed to execute the court's orders. 

On May 26, local residents visited the temple and were harassed and questioned by police who had received complaints from monks stationed at the Vihara.

The news coverage and photography reported by Kumanan detailing harassment by the police and monks was vital in supporting this case. 

On May 27, lawyers told the courts that monks had installed two new CCTV cameras in the temple. The courts subsequently ordered the monks to remove these cameras. The name of the temple was returned to its original on May 27 and the cameras were removed on May 28.

Kumanan has since filed a complaint to the Deputy District General of the police in Mullaitivu.

Sri Lanka has historically been one of the most dangerous places in the world for a journalist, with a report by Together Against Genocide finding that from 2004 until 2009 at least 48 journalists were killed.  At least 41 of those media workers were Tamil.

Read more here.