Sri Lanka: Media Kept on Tight Leash

, by IPS

As the latest round of Asia’s longest-running guerrilla war winds down, scores of journalists here are experiencing intimidation and harassment for being critical of the military campaign against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The issues currently in focus are the rising number of civilian casualties, repeated calls for a ‘ceasefire’ by the U.N. and the international community, and a government plea for international humanitarian assistance to tackle a mounting crisis.

"Maybe journalists don’t want to talk about these things given the fear psychosis that has engulfed the media," noted a veteran journalist, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal. Some journalists have even opted to leave the country.

N. Vithiyatharan, Editor of the Uthayan and Sudar-Oli newspapers, was released on Friday after two months in detention after a local magistrate in Colombo ruled that there was no evidence to link him to a Tamil rebel air strike in Colombo in February 2009.

Vithiyatharan, a member of the Tamil minority community, said in a newspaper interview on Saturday that he was detained by the government to prevent him from highlighting the grievances of displaced Tamil civilians in the north. Read more