Violence Against the Media in Sri Lanka Continues with Latest Murder

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has fears for the safety of Sri Lankan journalists following the murder of Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan who was shot and killed in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.

According to IFJ affiliate in Sri Lanka, the Free Media Movement (FMM), Sugirdharajan was shot and killed by assailants riding motorcycles at approximately 6.00am on Tuesday January 24, 2006.

Commonly referred to as SSR, the 35-year-old father of two children worked for the Tamil language daily newspaper, Sudarorli, as a part-time provincial journalist.

Sugirdharajan’s murder follows a pattern of violence directed towards Sudaroli including two grenade attacks on the newspaper offices, the first was directed at the advertising office on August 20, 2005 and the second against the printing presses. The second attack on August 29, 2005, was responsible for the death of Sudarorli security guard, Mr. David Selvaratnum.

On August 23, 2005, pro-government political party supporters in Colombo handed over another Sudarorli journalist to police after being been manhandled and accused to be a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) spy.

The attacks against Sudarorli illustrate the wider dangers confronting the Tamil language media and journalists specifically in Sri Lanka currently as they get caught in the middle of growing tensions.

Sugirdharajan was the fourth media death to be recorded in the past twelve months, and several other Tamil journalists have been assaulted and detained in the last two months. State security forces search Tamil newspaper offices repeatedly, placing the media industry under serious pressure.

“On behalf of the IFJ I send my deepest condolences to Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan’s family and colleagues, “ said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“His death is a reminder to us all of the dangers currently faced by journalists in Sri Lanka, particularly Tamil journalists,” said Warren.

“The dangers facing Tamil journalists are unacceptable. It is crucial that the government addresses the issue immediately, beginning with the necessary investigation of the murder,” said Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries