The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the bombing of the Voice of Tigers (VOT), the official radio station of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), near Ki’linochchi, in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province of Vanni, on November 27.
According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, five editorial staff and four civilians, including a 14-year-old girl, were killed in a government air strike on the station. Up to 10 civilians were taken to hospital with serious injuries.
The state-run Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) reported that the Sri Lanka Air Force conducted the attack in the LTTE-held town and fighter pilots confirmed they had successfully destroyed their target.
The bombing was reportedly carried out as the station was broadcasting coverage of the annual War Heroes’ Day ceremonies in LTTE-controlled regions. An official of the Political Division of the LTTE told the TamilNet website that the scheduled broadcast of the LTTE leaders’ annual policy address went to air via a back-up facility.
“The IFJ strongly believes that all media workers, regardless of the views of the organisations for which they work, must be regarded as non-combatants in conflict zones,” said the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.
“While we do not endorse or support the views of any particular media organisation, we strongly denounce the bombing of VOT as an attack on freedom of speech and a serious violation of international law.”
The Sri Lankan Air Force launched a similar attack on a VOT radio tower on October 17, 2006. At that time the IFJ called on Sri Lanka’s Government to act in accordance with its obligations under Article 79 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention to respect the safety of journalists as non-combatant civilians.
“The IFJ again calls on the Government of Sri Lanka to abide by its commitments under the Geneva Convention and refrain from deliberate attacks that endanger the lives of civilians, including media workers,” Ms Park said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia Pacific +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries