Sri Lankan Government Must Clarify Circumstances of Journalist’s Death


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.


However, the

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

humanitarian law.


“The death

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



“The IFJ

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