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Sri Lanka



-  Area : 65,610 sq.km.
-  Population 20,740,000.
-  Languages : Sinhala and Tamil (off.), English (semi-off.).
-  Head of state : President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Sri Lanka - Annual report 2006

The dormant war between security forces and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) has had harmful consequences for the safety of journalists, particularly Tamils. Murders, arrests, threats and bombings have again become the daily lot for many reporters, particularly in the north and east of the country.

The election as president of left-wing nationalist, Mahinda Rajapakse, at the end of November 2005 and the appointment as prime minister of Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka, who has a radical stance on relations with the LTTE, have cast a new shadow over the peace process. During the campaign, the LTTE forced the Tamil population to boycott the poll after silencing opposing voices within the community.

Violence between Tamil factions, sometimes manipulated by the security forces, has had particularly bloody results. The renowned Tamil journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram "Taraki", head of the news website TamilNet and editorialist on the Daily Mirror, was gunned down in Colombo in April. After arresting one suspect, police abandoned the investigation.

Four months later, the TV presenter Relangi Sevaraja was murdered in the capital. She produced programmes that were critical of the LTTE, broadcast on a public channel.

The most independent media have not been spared. In October, arsonists attacked the printers of the press group publishing The Sunday Leader and Irudina, near Colombo. A few weeks earlier, an ultra-nationalist leftist deputy, a member of the coalition government, called the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickremetunge a “terrorist”.



 
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