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Sri Lanka 24 May 2005

Fears for safety of Tamil journalist

Reporters Without Borders is extremely concerned about the safety of Vediwel Thevaraj, associate editor of the Tamil daily Veerakesari, who has received death threats.

In a letter to the Minister of Public Security, Law and Order, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, the organisation urged the authorities in Colombo to take seriously threats against the Tamil journalist since the murder of one of his colleagues, Dharmeratnam Sivaram on 29 April 2005.

"It is urgent to arrest the authors of these threats before they can put them into effect," it said.

On two successive days after the abduction of Sivaram, the 29 and 30 April, unidentified people speaking in Singalese and Tamil telephoned Thevaraj’s home. Most of the calls were taken by the journalist’s niece, who was told that her uncle would be next on the list.

When he heard about Sivaram’s death, Thevaraj, who was in Melbourne at the time, decided to cut short his visit and to return to Colombo. On 1st May, he went to the deceased man’s home where his body was still lying. Throughout his visit, from 3.30 to 9.30pm, Thevaraj noticed a suspicious looking grey jeep, parked in front of the house, the same type of vehicle that had been used to abduct the journalist.

Later in the evening, after returning home, Thevaraj was woken by noises from the street. He opened the door to see where the noises came from and recognised the same grey jeep, this time parked a few metres from his house.

The following day, the Tamil journalist received a further anonymous call at his office repeating the death threats.

Thevaraj went to Canada on a long-planned trip from 5-21 May and has received no new threats since he returned to Colombo.




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