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Threats Increase Concerns for Detained Media Worker and Family in Sri Lanka

Statement by IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) holds grave fears for the safety of detained Tamil media worker N. Jesiharan and his family in Sri Lanka after the family received threats and demands for ransom in return for Jesiharan's safety while in detention.

The IFJ appeals to Sri Lanka's Minister for Human Rights and Disaster Management, Mahinda Samarasinghe, to honour a commitment he made to assure Jesiharan of protection while in custody.

Jesiharan is currently on trial on charges laid under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

According to the Free Media Movement (FMM), an IFJ affiliate, Jesiharan's family in a remote village in the volatile Batticoloa District, in Sri Lanka's east, reported receiving three threatening phone calls on November 25 and 26. The caller demanded a ransom of Rs100,000 (about $US920) to keep Jesiharan alive, the FMM reports.

The family lodged a complaint with the Kalavanchikudi police station. However, the duty police officer told the FMM the police could not take action because the caller's number could not be identified.

Jesiharan, the owner of E-Kwality Printers, and his partner Valarmathi were detained by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lankan police in March, along with senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam.

After being held for more than 150 days without charge, all three were indicted on August 25 under the PTA, and are now on trial. The charges refer to the content of Tissainayagam's journalistic work.

Jesiharan and Tissainayagam were unexpectedly moved from a remand prison to the notoriously violent Magazine Prison in Colombo following a visit from Samarasinghe on November 17. Samarasinghe had promised to improve their conditions of detention.

After local and international press freedom groups expressed extreme concern about the move, two representatives from the Human Rights and Disaster Management Ministry reportedly visited the two men in prison and confirmed that they were not being held with other prisoners.

"The threats made to Jesiharan's family make it even more imperative that Sri Lanka's Government and authorities fulfill their responsibility to ensure no harm comes to Jesiharan, Valarmathi and Tissainayagam, nor to their families" IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

The IFJ joins the FMM in calling on Minister Samarasinghe to increase security for all three, and to investigate fully the threats against Jesiharan's family and to ensure the perpetrator of the threats is brought to justice.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide

2 Comments

Tissaynayagam has serious eye illness and is denied access to treatment. Earlier there have been instances when influential persons were transferred to colombo general hospital for sudden "ailments" which they complained of soon after being sent to remand custody.Jasiharan's family being threatened now worsens the situation. Sri lanka has a long history of torture and deaths of persons in custody which has been reported by UN personnel.
All this amounts to state terrorism on citizens.

Posted by: Nathan | November 27, 2008 10:12 AM

There are at least 15 to 20 young Tamil or Muslim young men and women are killed in the North and East of the country every day.

Beside quite a few men and women are kidnapped and disappear on a daily basis in the rest of the country. All these are done with the connivance of the occupied forces and their supporters. This is the way Mahinda and his brothers with the military commanders have worked out their strategies to eliminate the Tamil rebellion under the guise of fighting against terrorism in Sri Lanka.

Can you tell a single bomb blast in this year carried out by LTTE, none. Most of the explosions are planted by this gang of four in order to show the world that LTTE is a terrorist organization. In other words they are quietly killing Tamils in large number to deceive the International Community under the guise of fighting against terrorism. How can any tiger infiltrate and carry out the attacks or plant bomb or mine when you have security check every hundred yards in the main cities and towns, especially in Colombo and its suburbs.

This is a pure genocide committed by the gang of four. If they bring Wanni under its control this is going to continue without any visible mass murders or killing via communal riots as it happened in the past. Tamils all over the world especially capable Leaders among Tamil Diaspora in the western world as well the Leaders in Tamil Nadu should take all necessary actions to stop this ongoing genocide. Only a ceasefire and getting the poor people who are living under tiring condition with constant fear, with out any basic amenities to return to their homes, farms and jobs can stop this trend.

If the so called International Community wants to see justice and fair play by everyone they should openly condemn the Sri Lankan Government and ask them to stop bombing and shelling it own people. They tell the world that they are fighting against the terrorist in order the save the innocent Tamils living in the North and East of the county. If you count the number of innocent people killed in the recent pass you will find 95% of the people killed are by the Armed Forces and their supporters.

Posted by: Martin Thomas | November 27, 2008 09:08 PM

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