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Home » Countries » Sri Lanka » Tamil freelance journalist attached to the Sinhala weekly Mawbima arrested

Tamil freelance journalist attached to the Sinhala weekly Mawbima arrested

At around 7 pm, on the 24.11.06, Parameswaree Munusamy, a 24-year-old female Tamil journalist was arrested by a ‘Special Task Force’ (STF) squad in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Parameswaree Munusamy has been freed).She was arrested along with another young Tamil woman who occupied the same boarding house at Ramakrishna Rd. Wellawatte. The two women are being interrogated by ‘Terrorist Investigation Division’ (TID) and have been issued with a detention order. Under the draconian ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ (PTA), a detainee can be held without being produced to a court of law for 90 days.

Parameswaree, from a plantation Tamil background was fluent in both Sinhala and Tamil languages and worked for the popular Sinhala weekly Mawbima (motherland) newspaper. In a Sinhala language news item appearing in the website ‘lankaenews.com’, it is stated that ‘certain reports published in the Mawbima, regarding State corruption and incidents implicating the Defence Secretary had come to the attention of the Defence Ministry and the President’. The Defence Secretary is the brother of the President.

The Mawbima newspaper, which started publishing a few months ago, but now has become one of the largest circulating newspapers in Sri Lanka, has controversially highlighted atrocities and human rights violations occurring in the Tamil majority North and East of the island. What is of special significance is that the Mawbima newspaper had brought to the attention of the Sinhala speaking people detailed reports of the Sri Lankan Air Force’s bombing of the Tamil school children in Mullaithivu in August, the Army artillery bombing of the Kathiraveli refugee camp in November and of the terrible situation faced by the starving Jaffna population living under siege and blockade by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

It is believed that the arrest and detention of the Tamil journalist Parameswaree is an indirect attack on the Mawbima newspaper to put pressure on it to change the content of the articles appearing in it.

We call on you to immediately send faxes to the Sri Lankan government to release the journalist and to ensure the freedom of expression in the media.

The fax Numbers:
The President – Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse – 0094 11 254 2919
The Secretary to the President – Mr. Lalith Weeratunge - 0094 11 244 6657

Please also email a copy of your letter to imrv@humanrights.de