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Sri Lanka 16 May 2005

Call for murders of journalists to be discussed at donors conference

Reporters Without Borders has written to participants in an important donors conference taking place today and tomorrow in Sri Lanka urging them to put pressure on the government to conduct a serious investigation into the 29 April murder of Tamil journalist Dharmeratnam "Taraki" Sivaram.

"The Sri Lankan authorities have regrettably demonstrated a complete lack of will to solve cases of murders and physical attacks against journalists," the press freedom organization said in its letter to the representatives of the World Bank and several countries participating in the conference, the Sri Lanka Development Forum, being held in the central town of Kandy.

"Those who instigated and perpetrated the murders of journalists Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan, Aiyathurai Nadesan, Rohana Kumara, Nadarajah Atputharajah and Anthony Mariyanayagam during the past four years have never been brought to trial, and we call on you to publicly condemn this culture of impunity," the letter said.

While recognizing the importance of the forum’s main subject, namely post-tsunami reconstruction and development strategies, Reporters Without Borders said the agenda should also include press freedom, which is repeatedly violated in Sri Lanka.

The editor of the Tamilnet news website, Sivaram was kidnapped at around 10:30 p.m. on 28 April and was found dead the next day. He had been shot several times in the head. Sivaram was known for his uncompromising coverage of the political and military situation, particularly since the emergence of a pro-government Tamil militia headed by Col. Karuna.

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