|Today's print edition of Eelamurasu announcing cessation of publishing. Headline reads: 'Now we take our leave. When it dawns we meet'|
The France based Tamil Media House has been forced to shut down, after an assassination attempt was made against a senior official last week.
The official, whose name has not been disclosed for security reasons, was shot at by an masked gunman, by his home in Paris on September 18, before receiving death threats, warning him to stop running the organisation or face death.
The Tamil Media House runs the widely read Eelamurasu newspaper, which has been publishing for the past nineteen years, as well as two Tamil diaspora websites: www.sankathi24.com and www.tamilkathir.com.
The gunman, dark clothes and concealing his face with a balaclava, got out from a car at 7.45pm, and attempted to fire his pistol twice at the official and his assistant, sources at the Tamil Media House told the Tamil Guardian, adding that they "had no doubt" the gunman was a Sri Lankan intelligence operative.
The pistol failed to fire on both attempts however, allowing the official and his assistant to run for cover. Onlookers were reported to have been heard screaming in horror whilst the gunman fled the scene.
A few minutes after the official reached his home, his assistant received a phonecall from an unknown male asking him to hand over the phone to the official.
The man, who the official believed to be the gunman, proceeded to warned to "shutdown Tamil Media House or face death like Paruthi", in an apparent reference to Paruthi, the late head of Tamil Coordinating Committee – France, who was assassinated in 2012 by a gunman suspected of being affiliated to the Sri Lankan intelligence services.
The official later received an email by an individual claiming to be from the Ellalan Force of Tamil Eelam, warning him to "shutdown Tamil Media House or face the barrel of our gun".
|Death threat sent via email to Tamil Media House official (published in Eelamurasu's print edition 23 Sep 2014)|
Two days after Paruthi's assassination in 2012, an email was sent out by individuals claiming to be from the Ellalan Force of Tamil Eelam, warning Tamil diaspora political activists to cease their activities or face death.
Sources at Tamil Media House told the Tamil Guardian that as the French police have not so far provided any security guarantees, they have "no choice but to end all of their activities".
Eelamurasu print edition released issue today announced the cessation of publishing, with a black front page and subsequent headline reading: 'Now we take our leave. When it dawns we meet'.
|Eelamurasu's 23 Sep 2014 front page - black with a glimpse of light.|
S. Seraman, a columnist for Tamil Media House, told the Tamil Guardian he suspects Sri Lankan intelligence services to be behind the assassination attempt.
Two months earlier, the same official and other key officials of Tamil Media House received threatening telephone calls from a mobile number based in Sri Lanka, said Seraman.
"The Sri Lankan intelligence services are using some of the former LTTE members who surrendered to the Sri Lanka armed forces at the end of the armed conflict in May 2009 and sent clandestinely to European countries through India to threaten and assassinate Tamil diaspora activists in the name of the Ellalan Force of Tamil Eelam," Seraman added.
In July 2009, Eelamurasu was forced to suspend its services for nearly two months following death threats on its officials. During this time the senior official’s car was vandalised. In 2011, the front door of his house was also axed.
In July 2009, Nagulan, a former Eastern commander of the LTTE and now working with the Sri Lankan military intelligence, telephoned journalists associated with the Tamil Media House and asked them to help facilitate the take-over of the institution by his proxies in Europe in return for a large sum of money.
In 2010, the official website of Tamil Media House, www.sankathi.com, was hijacked by a Canadian-based associate of Selvarajah Pathmanathan (alias KP), who is working with the Sri Lankan government, forcing the Tamil Media House to open a new website www.sangathie.com. This was renamed www.sankathi24.com in 2012.
In August, the server of www.sankathi24.com was wiped out during a cyber attack, suspected, by the website's staff, to have been carried out by Sri Lankan intelligence services.
A similar attack on the website and another Tamil diaspora website www.pathivu.com also took place in November 2013 during Tamil Eelam National Heroes’ Week.
In October 1996, K. Kajan, the founding editor of Eelamurasu, was assassinated in Paris with K. Nathan, the head of LTTE’s international finances, by a gunman suspected to be affiliated to the Sri Lankan intelligence services.