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Sri Lanka 21 August 2006

Tamil newspaper managing director gunned down outside Jaffna

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today at the murder of Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, the managing director of the Tamil-language daily Namathu Eelanadu (Our Eelam Nation), who was shot dead last night in his home in Tellippalai, 15 km outside the northern city Jaffna. A Tamil politician, he had run the newspaper since it was founded in 2002.

“The journalists and employees of Tamil news media continue to be eliminated at a horrific pace,” the press freedom organisation said. “All parties, especially the pro-government Tamil paramilitaries, must stop targeting civilians, journalists and humanitarian workers. The press is again the victim of Sri Lanka’s dirty war, and the government is partly to blame for this hellish cycle of violence.”

Aged 68, Sivamaharajah was a member of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), a party affiliated to the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance. He used to be a parliamentary representative of the Tamil party TULF. His home, where he was killed, is located in the Sri Lankan army’s high security zone.

Launched in 2002, after the signing of a cease-fire between the government and the LTTE, Namathu Eelanadu offers national news coverage with a special focus on the Jaffna peninsula and a pro-Tamil nationalist position.

Soldiers staged a raid lasting several hours on the newspaper’s headquarters in Jaffna in December, questioning employees.

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