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Sri Lanka 30 April 2007

Young reporter with Tamil newspaper murdered in Jaffna

Reporters Without Borders condemned yesterday’s murder of young reporter employed by the daily Uthayan, one of the Tamil newspapers that has been most targeted by violence. Gunned down on his bicycle near the newspaper’s office in the northern city of Jaffna, Selvarajah Rajivarnam was the second journalist to be killed in a government-controlled area in the past 10 days.

"The people who murder journalists in Sri Lanka feel so well protected that they carry out fresh murders to mark the anniversaries of their preceding ones," Reporters Without Borders said. "On the second anniversary of the murder of editor Sivaram Dharmeratnam and the first anniversary of the murder of two Uthayan employees, the killers struck again, murdering another journalist with impunity in an area controlled by the army. We call on the authorities to identify and punish those responsible."

Rajivarnam was shot by a gunman on a motorcycle. Aged 25, he had been a reporter with Uthayan for the past six months. He used to go to the police stations and hospital seeking information about the many crimes that have been taking place in recent months in Jaffna, which is the capital of the northern part of the island. He had also been taking an evening journalism course at Jaffna university.

Before joining Uthayan, he had worked for three years for the newspaper Namathu Eelanadu (Our Eelam Nation), whose managing editor, Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, was murdered in August 2006, and for the daily Yarl Thinakural, one of whose journalists, Subramaniam Ramachandran, has been missing since February. Three of Uthayan’s employees were killed last year.

Rajivarnam was buried today, after the police handed over the body to the family.

Jaffna-based journalists told Reporters Without Borders they suspected that the pro-government Tamil militia, the EPDP, could have been behind Rajivarnam’s murder. The EPDP criticises Uthayan for supporting Tamil nationalism. EPDP members were suspected in the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan in 2000 and last year’s murder of the three Uthayan employees. (JPEG)

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