Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

TID continues to target Tamil journalist, summoning family and friends

Sri Lanka’s Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) has continued to target a Tamil journalist, summoning his brother for investigation on Sunday, after a friend was also summoned and investigated last week.

Prominent Jaffna journalist Uthayarasa Shalin was summoned by the TID in August, along with five others, in relation to the display of a map of the Tamil homeland during a festival at the journalist’s local temple in Aanaikottai, Jaffna.

Shalin had raised questions about his summoning, stating that he was not a member of the temple’s board. He was questioned in Colombo for several hours about his work and his personal life.

On Sunday, Shalin’s brother, Uthayarasa Jelsin, was issued a summons to appear at the TID headquarters on October 17. Jelsin is also not a member of the temple’s board.

Last week, two other young Tamil men from the area, one a close friend of the journalist, also appeared before the TID in response to summons. All of the summons that have been issued were made out entirely in Sinhala only.

The incident had initially sparked weeks of investigation and summons of Aanaikottai residents and temple board members by several different divisions, including Kankesanthurai Police’s intelligence division, Manippay and Jaffna police and Koppay security forces.

Jaffna police had said the investigation was closed after taking statements from the temple’s youth forum members and the temple’s chair and secretary, and warning the temple to not repeat such actions in the future. The TID summons followed weeks later.

While locals initially said that they thought the investigations were aimed at intimidating the community, Shalin now believes he is specifically being targeted for intimidation with the summons of his neighbours, friends and now brother.

“From what I gather from others that were investigated, the sessions all mentioned or focused on me and whether I played a role in the display,” the journalist said.

Shalin said he had merely reported on the festival but that the authorities were using the tenuous connection to intimidate him and silence his work.

The journalist has been subjected to intimidation and threats in the past, including a prolonged period of hospitalisation after he was seriously assaulted in 2013. The attackers were believed to be Sri Lankan military intelligence operatives.