A senior Tamil media editor was questioned by Sri Lanka’s Counter Terrorism Investigation Department (CITD), dubbed the ‘terror police’ by local rights activists, for over four hours for publishing a news item in 2020.
Thangarajah Prabhakaran, Chief Editor of Jaffna based Tamil daily ‘Uthayan’ was grilled on a day when the war-affected Tamils remembered their dear and near who died during the war on the 27 November amidst intimidation, court cases by the Police seeking a ban on even paying homage to the dead-an essential part of the Tamil tradition and custom-and pulling down decorations by the state.
Rewind four years back. The ‘Uthayan’ newspaper published a photo of the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran along with a news item on the ‘Maveerar’ Day events on 26 November, 2020.
Dilip Amuthan, the News editor of the paper, was asked by the police then about the article which had focused on how people celebrated the birthday of Prabhakaran then and now when people celebrate it secretly due to constant surveillance of the police.
Now the CITD has sought details from Prabhakaran about the said news item again, specifically asking the author of the report and who approved its publication, it is reliably learnt.
In reply, according to sources, Prabhakaran told the CITD according to ‘Uthayan’ editorial policy the name of the author can be disclosed only in court if asked. Also, he told his inquirers four years back there was none as Editor-in-Chief and there were only editorial advisors of which he was one.
Tamil journalists have come under severe state intimidation regularly, in particular, during the annual ‘Maveerar Naal’.
International bodies including the UN Human Rights Commission, Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters beyond borders have criticized Sri Lanka for its oppression against the media and select journalists who are critical of the state.
Attacks against Tamil press persons and media have been taking place regularly even after the end of the war nearly 15 years ago.