And now the Jaffna office has been burnt down. The Government has been quick state this was a malicious act conducted by Uthayan to frame the government. Sure, Uthayan Newspapers which has been around since 1985– and which has continued to publish their paper even though they’ve been attacked, and journalists and staff killed– would set their own office ablaze (losing important documents) so that they can make the government look bad.
I’ve spoken to the Editors of Uthayan, and they’ve given me a list of incidents that have taken place since 2006. Over the 7 years, not a single arrest has been made. They informed me that Uthayan has been attacked and threatened by the terrorists during the war, as well as political authorities.
I’ve reproduced the document (unedited) listing the murders, attacks and threats since 2006. Note– NO arrests have been made.
Marketing Manger Mr. Bastian George Sahayadas (Suresh – 36) and Rajaratnam Ranjithkumar (25) employee shot dead within the office, 02 others maimed and several others injured. Also damaged the Electronic and Electrical items by shooting, Machineries and furniture did not escape their eyes.
The net result was the Senior Journalists abstained from coming to the Office.
Divisional reporters due to threatening failed to give news stories.
Before the closer of A-9 Road, we had been printing 25,000 copies daily with 20 pages.(i.e. very occasionally) whenever there is a delay due to the transport by road from Colombo and the number of pages for Sunday were 20 + 08 with a weekly Supplement.
Even after the closer of A- 9 road (on the 11th August, 2006, we manged to continue with the normal circulation of 25,000 copies with 20 pages. But we were compelled to reduce the pages step from 20 to 08 pages and the number of 22,000. But since there was no symptom about the permission to bring the News print by ship, we reduced our pages to 8,6 and then 04 and the number of copies from 25,000 to 22,000 then to 16,000, 6,500 and from February 2007 to 5,000.
In the survey Conducted by the “Media Habitat” institute in 2005 it was catecorised that Uthayan had the highest sales amounting to 389,381 per month out of the 8 Tamil dailies that are published in Sri Lanka.
While Uthayan driver, Sampasivan Baskaran was distributing our News Paper to the Agents he was shot dead.
Uthayan main stores and our stock of News print fully burnt.
Several gunmen entered the Uthayan premises (during the curfew hours) jumping over the wall and walked up straight to our Editorial floor. The alert Security Guard informed the Police (They are being posted by the Government after May 2nd massacre at our office.)
The police immediately rushed and apprehended the intruders in civil and subsequently released them without taking any action against them.
This was officially reported to high ranking Police Officers.
At about 04.00 P.M., Curfew time, Major general G.A.Chandrasiri, the Commanding Officer of the Security Forces in Jaffna, sent his men from Palaly Head Quarters to bring Uthayan Editor. As the Editor was not available a Senior Journalist represented him.
He told the journalist that news about Security Forces should not be published in Uthayan to tarnish them. If that is not adopted, the Newspaper Office will be sealed and publication ceased.
He further added that a committee appointed by him will visit the Newspaper office, at nights for seven days (from 24.07.2006) for monitoring the news to be published. The Committee will make alternations if necessary.
The Commander continued; Journalist not to divulge details of his conversation. They should not go to the web, specially the “Tamil Net”. He said it is merely my advice to you and nothing else.
In fact, the S.F. Commander threatened Uthayan Journalist to toe the Government line or face closure of Uthayan.
At a function organized by the International Journalist Association Journalists Associations, Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and Free Media Movement, the Award for Public Service and Tolerance Journalism was showered on Uthayan.
Commanding officer of 512 Brigade, summoned all three Newspaper representatives published in Jaffna under the pretext of News Conference.
Pointed out that the instructions issued to prohibited any news items and stories adverse to security forces in the news papers are not adhered. In future, any item such as comments from Illamparuthy (Ex Jaffna political chief of LTTE) should not be published.
Also added, news relating to Hero’s Day speech of LTTE Leader Prabaharan should not be published.
Mr.S.Rajvaraman (24) one of our Staff Reporters was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while on his way for duty to our Office in the morning.
Mr. Ranjith of 512 Brigade Jaffna, called over at our office and said that the Brigade Commander does not want us to publish any news relating to the students strike.
Unidentified gun men got down from the a ‘White Van’ and tried to intrude into the apartment of our Editor Mr.N. Vithyatharan and inquired from the Security personnel and tried to go inside pretending that they have come to meet him personally. But the Security Personnel wisely replied’ he is not inside and gone out’.
Immediately, it was informed to Government Instituted highly Powered monitoring Committee consisting of Government ministers and Politicos.
Commanding Officer of Major General G.A.Chandrasiri met the Press. He said still the news papers in Jaffna are publishing news stories tarnishing the image of Security Forces and news against them.
About six months back also there was a discussion about this. There must be a balance in publishing news. By publishing news about tarnishing, the actions and activities of security Forces you are not only hurting me but also the 30 thousand Army Men who are under me.
He indicated that Media unit is maintaining separate, files for each Newspaper particularly for news and articles not palatable to then.
One of Journalist cum Editorial Assistant Mr.V.Nimalrajah was kidnapped near an Army Check point at Navalar road, very close to our office. He is now in the list of missing persons.
An anonymous telephone caller from Kayts (Fortress of the Para Military Group” ordered in rough voice’ that publication of the Uthayan be stopped immediately (i.e.07th January).
An Official complaint was made at the Jaffna Police about this threat by the Chief Editor.
In addition to direct inhuman acts leading to stop the publication there are and were indirect pressures from the Security Forces to throttle the neck of the press.
Here are some of them:
An Army Officer of Manohara Civil Office came to our office and requested from the General Manager for a list of all employees working at Uthayan.
At about 7.30 P.M., an Army Officer named Mr. Prasanth from Manohara Civil Office, came and wanted to speak to the General Manager. As he was not on duty, he went away. The Officer named Mr. Prasanth of the Manohara Civil Office came again the following morning and spoke to the G.M. Then M.D. was contacted and spoke to the Officer and then he went away.
At a function organized by the International Journalist Association, Federation of Journalists Associations, Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum and Free Media Movement, the Award for Public Service and Tolerance Journalism was showered on Uthayan.
M/s, Wilson and Charles of the E.P.D.P. came to office in the morning and asked for the Editor. G.M. said that the Editor was not available and then they went away. Again in the evening at about 7.30 p.m., came and requested the Security Guard that they wanted to meet the Editor. They were told that he was not available in his seat. Then they wanted to speak to any other person from the Editorial and was told no one is available and M.D. was contacted, and M.D. spoke to them. When leaving the security point, they said that they would have to pay for all these as they have not highlighted about the demonstration they staged the previous day.
Editor Uthayn/ Sudar Oli was kidnapped/ arrested while he was at a funeral house by an armed identified white van gang and was detained in Police custody and was released after 02 months.
At 11.10 p.m. an unidentified crowd had hurled a grenade to the apartment of the Chief Editor within Uthayan premises. He narrowly escaped the attack without any injuries, but unfortunately the Police Guard who was on duty was badly injured and was immediately taken to hospital.
All three news papers that were taken for delivery was snatched by two masked persons with small arms like swords and thrown to the middle of the road, poured petrol and burnt. This incident took place in close proximity to the town- in between Navlar Road and Anaipanthy junction. The hooligans ordered the Uthayan Delivery personnel to set fire to the News Papers. At the same time, Uthayan News papers were snatched from a private person who purchased same at the gate and does house delivery, were thrown on the road and burnt.
After the incident, Army Personnel are giving security for the distribution of all the three News Papers.
The burning of the three news papers is a revengeful Act for not publishing a statement issued under the nick name “Joint Tamil Body to Save the Country”.
A Pamphlet was issued under the nick name of a Joint body called “Joint Tamil Body to Save the Country” stating that Uthayan would not be permitted to function, and the employees, Agents and correspondents would have to face death sentence, if Uthayan does not cease publication by 30th June, 09.
The S.F. Commander Pallay and Political parties issued statements condemning the threat to Uthayan. Also informed the security Officers about same and they took timely action in regard to the distribution of our News Paper and informed the Agents, Reporters and Employees to attend to the duties/work without fear.
His Excellency the President on hearing same, immediately issued a statement that Uthayan should not be harassed. Remedial measures were taken in this regard.
The above mentioned pamphlet was sent to three of the Agents in Vadamardchi Area. They informed us immediately on receipt of pamphlet and timely action taken in this regard as well. In the midst of all these trials and tribulations, Uthayan received the Highest Award for Protecting the Press Freedom in
Sri Lanka for 2008 by the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka.
Uthayan, Chudar Oli Editor Mr. N.Vithyatharan was threaten by Kishore Sivanathan M.P.
A Police Constable named Ratnadasa Prdeepan alias Setti of Atchuvely South entered Uthayan Premises and threatened the employees saying that he would set fire to the entire building; was arrested by the Police within the premises itself.
The Uthayan News Paper was banned and not allowed to be taken inside the premises of the Municipal Council premise by the Mayor Mrs. Yogeswaray Patgunarajah. She also ordered to her Officers that with immediate effect, advertisement or news should not be given to the Uthayn News Paper.
Mr. Puvanenthira Mayurathan, a Reporter of Uthayan was manhandled and beaten up at the Jaffna University Premises by the students and Security personnel when he had gone to collect news.
Uthayan Reporter Mr.S.Kavitharan, was assaulted at about 6.30 A.M. on his way to Office by four unidentified persons. This occurred in close proximity to the Jaffna Hindu College Play Grounds.
Uthayn Photographer Mr. Ratnum was attacked and he sustained severe injuries in his hand at the T.N.A. Local Government Propaganda Meeting held at Alvaddy Mahajana College Building.
Death threat to Mr. E.Saravanabavan, Member of Parliament. At about 9.25 P.M., a threat call was received by the Member of Parliament. The caller warned that the Member of Parliament should leave the country and if he stayed in the country, he should stop criticizing the Government and the Ministers, if not he will be murdered. He should leave the country within 02 days.
Uthayn News Editor Mr. Gnasundaram Kuganathan was assaulted and was seriously injured, when he was returning home after the day’s duty at about 7.30 P.M., by two un identified armed men. This occurred in close proximity to an Army Camp on the Navalar Road junction.
Minister Douglas Devananda has filed an action in the court demanding thousand million rupees to control and suppress the freedom of expression and freedom of publication of “Uthayn News Paper”. This legal action is filed for the news item that pertains to the contents of Wikileaks exposing the murders of the people by the EPDP cadre.
Minister Douglas Devananda has filed action in the Jaffna court, demanding thousand million rupees against the Managing Director and Chief Editor of “Uthayan” saying that libel news items are being published by “Uthayan” news paper by distorting and tarnishing his public image.
Major General Jagath Jayasooriya Commander of the Sri Lankan Army has filed an action in the court demanding rupees hundred million for a news item appeared in the “Uthayan News Paper” on 11.07.2012, which claims that it conveys a wrong message to the readers to effect that as the Commander of the Sri Lankan Army has no control over subordinate officers.
Uthayan Managing Director Mr. E.Sarvanapavan, who visited at the scene of pandemonium created by Military Personnel in civil and the Police. The Army soldiers who were in civil dress have throw stones at him and also to his vehicle.
The media reporters who have gone to University premises to collect news were attacked by arm forces on 27.12.2012.
The Managing Director of ‘Uthayan’ Mr.E.Sarvanapavan, who is also a Member of Parliament had visited the University of Jaffna, no sooner he heard that a clash between the students and Police. He was prevented by the Army to enter, but he managed to reach the destination, where the clash was took place. When he returned to take his vehicle, he found that all the glasses of his van fully broken and damaged. The surprising matter is that the vehicle was parked near the Army check point.
“Uthayn” News Paper delivery employee Mr. N.Pratheepan (30years old) was waylaid and brutally attacked by some unidentified mask mob with iron bars wrapped with barbed wire sustained serious injuries all over his body and also a fracture in his right hand. He has been admitted to Jaffna Teaching Hospital in a critical condition.
At a protest rally organized by Equal Rights, Movement, in front of Jaffna bus stand, to give pressure to release the Jaffna University Students, the crude oil was thrown on media reporters, who were there to cover news assignments. “Uthayan” reporters Mr. K.Nirojan is also one of the journalists, who were affected.
Two unidentified men has chased the “Uthayan” delivery employee at Kopay junction, who has taken news papers to Valvettiturai for delivery. But he escaped without being attacked.
The “Uthayan on Line” journalist’s camera has been plunged and damaged by an Army Officer at the satyagraha held by the people of Valigamam North at Tellippallai in front of the Durgai Amman temple.
Mr. G.Deleepamuthan, our staff reporter, had been threaten bodily harm and warned by a senior officer – Brigade Commander 512 – Brigadier Ajith Pannawella, who was in civil.
The Staff Reporter took a picture of the event “Attention Drawing Campaign” held at central bus stand: Jaffna today (20th March 2013).
Our staff has told the Army Officer that he was taking the photo for the press. He also tried to show the Media accreditation card issued by the Department of Information for the year 2013.
The Officer said that he knows well that Deleep from ‘UTHAYAN’.
Our staff told repeatedly the Army Officer, that he is taking the photos to be published in the news paper. But Army officer reiterated that our staff is taking his personnel picture purposely and also commended (warned) “You go: I will see you.”
This is saying purported Intimidation to a journalist from a high officer of the Army, in Jaffna.