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RSF accuses Colombo of “War Crime

[TamilNet, Monday, 16 February 2009 18:55 No Comment]

In an unprecedented move, Reporters sans frontières (RSF), a Paris-based media watchdog, in a press release issued today, expressed "revulsion at the death of Tamil journalist" Sathyamurthy in Sri Lanka Army (SLA) bombardment, and accused Colombo of committing war crimes, asserting "Army air strikes and artillery fire on areas where there are tens of thousands of civilians, including Tamil journalists, are war crimes." Sathyamoorthy was killed inside the "Safe Zone" demarcated by Sri Lanka late last week. Several hundreds Tamil refugees herded into the safe zone by the Government of Sri Lanka have been killed by targeted artillery and air-attacks inside the safe zone.

Full text of RSF’s press release follows:

Reporters Without Borders today expressed revulsion at the death of a Tamil journalist in a Sri Lankan Army bombardment on the north of the country, which it described as a "war crime".

Punniyamurthy Sathyamurthy was killed during an air raid on 12 February on Thevipuram, Mullaithivu district in the region of Vanni, being fought over by the army and rebel Tamil Tigers (LTTE). He had recently filed news of the plight of civilians in the latest wave of fighting.

"Army air strikes and artillery fire on areas where there are tens of thousands of civilians, including Tamil journalists, are war crimes" the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"The death of Sathyamurthy shows the extent to which witnesses to the military offensive have no protection. We call on the international community to secure a ceasefire to save the lives of these civilians," it added.
Based in Vanni, controlled until recently by the LTTE, he worked with a number of Tamil media, mainly in Canada. One of his colleagues told Reporters Without Borders that he "cared passionately about the plight of the Tamil people and was not afraid of anything.(…) We cannot rule out that he was deliberately targeted", he added.

The journalist had worked for five years for Canadian Tamil Radio, Canadian Multicultural Radio and Tamil Vision International television, all based in Canada. His articles were regularly carried by websites and media of the Tamil diaspora.

He was born in 1972 in the Polanaruva district and lived at Mandatheevu. He entered journalism after studying political science at the University of Jaffna.

He was married and was the father of a six year old girl. Colleagues held a memorial gathering for him in Toronto, Canada.

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