UN Human Rights Council urged to intercede on behalf of two detained journalists

Reporters Without Borders, which has consultative status with the United Nations Human Rights Council, today asked the council to intercede on behalf of two imprisoned Sri Lankan journalists, J.S. Tissainayagam and N. Vithyatharan, and to meet as quickly as possible to discuss the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

The press freedom organisation said Tissainayagam, who worked for the Sunday Times newspaper, has been held under an anti-terrorism law for more than a year just for writing two articles about how civilians have suffered as a result of the fighting between government forces and the rebels of the LTTE.

Vithyatharan, the editor of the Tamil daily Sudar Oli, has been held by the Colombo police since 26 February. The authorities are trying to establish a link between him and the Tamil Tigers by going through hundreds of calls made or received by him or members of his staff.

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the comments which the president’s brother, defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, made about Vithyatharan in an interview for Amos Roberts, a reporter with Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). “He is involved in the recent air attack and I am telling you if you try to give cover-up for that person you have blood in your hands,” Rajapaksa said. “And if someone says he is arrested because he is in media, that person also has blood on his hands.”