Media watchdogs raise fears after Sri Lankan police raid Tamil journalist's home
Wed May 5, 2004 01:38 EDT .
- - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Two international media watchdog groups have raised concerns about the safety of a prominent Tamil journalist in Sri Lanka - after police raided his home for weapons. Sivaram, who belongs to Sri Lanka - 's 3.2 million Tamil minority, said police told his wife they were looking for weapons and explosives. The search yielded nothing, Sivaram said Wednesday.
Ann Cooper, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, said the raid might have been staged in retaliation against Sivaram's reporting.
``We call on Sri Lankan authorities to investigate this incident, and to ensure that all journalists are able to practice their profession without fear of harassment.''
``A group of about 40 police officers who said they were looking for weapons searched Sivaram's home,'' she said in a statement. ``Sivaram was not there at the time, but his family says they felt threatened, and the journalist fears that his life could be in danger.''
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said it also is concerned about Sivaram's safety.
``Sivaram has enough enemies for some vengeful groups to take advantage of the post-electoral situation to target a journalist known to have condemned them and for his stance in support of the Norwegian-sponsored peace process,'' the Reporters Without Borders said.
Sri Lanka - went to the polls April 2 to elect a Parliament and mediators from Norway is now trying to restart stalled peace talks between the government and the Tigers.
Sivaram's Web site has gained widespread notoriety for its reporting on Tamil affairs, with special emphasis on human rights violations by government security forces.
He received death threats in 2000 and 2001 by unidentified armed groups believed to be working clandestinely with the Sri Lankan state and by an ethnic Sinhala extremist group, according to reports in Tamil newspapers at the time.
Also in 2001, Sivaram said he feared for his life after Sri Lankan newspapers linked him with Tamil Tiger separatists.
Sri Lanka - 's civil war was born of an ancient conflict between two ethnic groups with their own distinct languages, cultures and history. The majority Sinhalese who are 14 million of Sri Lanka - 's 19 million people are mainly Buddhist. Most of the 3.2 million Tamils are Hindus, like Sivaram.
Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, a British Broadcasting Corp. journalist based in the northern city of Jaffna, was shot to death in his home in October 2000 after being accused of working for the rebels.
Published: Wed May 5 02:38:57 EDT 2004