International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed to learn of the death
of journalist Puniyamoorthy Sathiyamoorthy from injuries reportedly sustained
in an artillery attack by the Sri Lankan Army on February 12.
a Tamil journalist of long-standing, contributed news reports and analyses, as
well as short stories and poems, to various Tamil newspapers and journals. He
lived in Jaffna city in Sri Lanka’s
was a sympathiser of the cause of a Tamil Eelam – or an independent Tamil
homeland in Sri Lanka’s
north and east. He also was a frequent contributor to media controlled by the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the principal armed group waging war
against the Sri Lankan Government since 1983.
IFJ is informed that Sathiyamoorthy was not an armed combatant with either the
LTTE or any of the other forces that have fought the Sri Lankan Government over
the past quarter century.
again calls on Sri Lanka’s
Government to conform with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738,
which obliges governments to recognise media personnel working in areas of
armed conflict as civilians and non-combatants. Under the resolution, the targeting of
journalists in situations of armed conflict is a violation of international
of Puniyamoorthy Sathiyamoorthy, whatever his political views, tragically
underscores the extreme dangers for all journalists in Sri Lanka who try to
report from the war zones or to offer a critical view of the conduct of the
war,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
calls on Sri Lanka’s
Government to investigate the circumstances of Sathiyamoorthy’s death, and to
clarify whether he was killed in a government-declared ‘safe zone’, as reported
in some sections of the media.”
media have reported that Sathiyamoorthy was killed in an Army attack on a “safe
zone” declared by the Sri Lankan Government at Theavipuram, in Mullaitheevu
district of the Vanni region.
Sathiyamoorthy’s death comes as local and
foreign media organisations in Sri
Lanka have been besieged by a campaign of
intimidation led by senior Government officials seeking to shut down all
independent sources of information about the ground realities of the war.
Since early January, dozens of Sri Lanka’s
journalists and media workers have left the country fearing for their lives as the
Government’s most significant successes in the long-running civil war have
coincided with a sharp deterioration in the media freedom environment.
represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries