The families of the disappeared in Vavuniya condemned the assault of the two Tamil Guardian correspondents in Mullaitivu on Monday and insisted that “media repression will kill democracy”.
On the 1334th day of continuous protests in Vavuniya yesterday, the secretary of the Vavuniya families of the disappeared stated;
“Press freedom is the right to report news or share opinions without government censorship. If press freedom is lost, political rights will also be lost. This has been taking place in our homeland for a long time. The removal of trees from the Tamil homeland is another form of genocide. These incidents emphasise the need for the US, the EU, and India among other powerful countries to find a real solution for the Tamils.”
The secretary also highlighted the land grabs in the North-East by the Sri Lankan Forest Department and Archaeology Department. “They are occupying our land in the on the basis of a fake story based on the Sinhala Mahavamsa,” he said.
The two Tamil journalists were assaulted in Mullaitivu by four individuals with metal rods, while they were reporting illegal logging and timber smuggling in the area. The assailants destroyed video proof that the journalists had taken of the smuggling and also stole their jewellery and money. Both journalists have previously faced threats and intimidation for their work, including from the Sri Lankan security forces. The journalists are currently hospitalised in a local hospital.
A climate of repression is increasingly present in the Tamil Homeland, with a crackdown on media by the Sri Lankan state.