Senior Journalist and media activist Thayaraparan Ratnam in Jaffna has been subjected to interrogation style investigations by a ‘Special Criminal Investigation Division’ in Kaangkeasanthu’rai (KKS) on Wednesday, media circles in Jaffna said. Mr Thayaparan has been subjected to continous harassment by Sri Lankan Defence Ministry operated ‘investigation’ units, Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and the CID, the sources said adding that the harassments started after the journalists and media activists started to attend media workshops held in Colombo and other places. However, the timing of the harassment against Tamil journalists has a different motive, civil activists in Jaffna told TamilNet.
Violent attacks against Tamil journalists have also been stepped up in Jaffna and Vanni in recent weeks.
The SL military is trying to impose a total censorship on Tamil media as it fears that the information from the journalists will be used as "reasonable grounds to believe" standard of proof by the OHCHR panel of Investigation on Sri Lanka. "This standard of proof may be sufficiently high to call for judicial investigations into violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and international crimes,” the OISL said in its Terms of Reference document.
The CID investigators have been questioning Mr Thayaparan, who is associated with Jaffna Press Club (JPC), on his interactions with international media watchdogs, training programmes with journalists from South that took place at Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) in Colombo, journalists in Jaffna said.
Mr Thayaparan was one of the 15 journalists who were chased and harassed by the SL military intelligence operatives on their way to attend a workshop on 25 July at the SLPI. The journalists were stopped twice on their way. On their second attempt, alleged SL military intelligence operatives attempted to plant a small pack of narcotics in one of their vehicles to detain them under false charges. However, the journalists who were on alert, foiled the attempt. Later, the SL military staged a demonstration against the workshop in Colombo disturbing the program of the SLPI.
Several journalists in North have come under similar harassments since their interaction with Transparency International Sri Lanka, which is a branch of the Transparency International (TI), a global watchdog against corruption.
Starting from August 03, 2014, Mr Thayaparan was subjected to continuous questioning, first by Defence Ministry investigators from Colombo and later by so-called Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) investigators, the sources in Jaffna said.
On Wednesday, the journalist was instructed to come to the Forward Defence Line (FDL) at Thellippazhai. He was taken to a house on KKS Road where a ‘Special Investigation team of the CID’, that comes under the Northern DIG of the SL Police, recorded a statement questioning the journalists for more than 3 hours.
The first part of the investigation was based on false allegations of LTTE connection in the past. But, at the end of their session, the investigators started to pose serious questions about Thayaparan’s connections to media watchdogs and his connections with the protests organised by the journalists in Jaffna in the recent times, the sources further said.