Tamil editor shot dead
A Tamil newspaper editor was killed outside his home on the besieged Jaffna Peninsula on Aug. 20, international and local media reported.
Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, managing director of the Tamil-language Namathu Eelanadu newspaper, was shot dead in the town of Vellippalai. The motive for the killing remains unclear.
“We are concerned that the killing of Sivamaharajah could be part of a pattern of violence against Tamil journalists and media workers covering this conflict,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Sivamaharajah, 68, was a member of parliament representing the Tamil United Liberation Front, and a member of the Tamil National Alliance, a pro-separatist party thought to be the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels. His newspaper, Namathu Eelanadu, is sympathetic to the Tamil nationalist cause.
The Tamil nationalist website TamilNet said that Sivamaharajah’s home was inside a security zone controlled by the Sri Lankan military, and was under curfew at the time of the killing. The Ministry of Defense denied that Sivamaharajah’s house was in the zone, and it accused the LTTE of the murder.
Three Tamil journalists—Subramaniyam Sugitharajah, Dharmeratnam Sivaram and Relangi Selvarajah—have been killed for their work since the beginning of 2005. (CPJ/International Freedom of Expression Exchange)
Newsprint stores of Sri Lankan newspaper burned
Two warehouses belonging to the Udayan (also called Uthayan) newspaper in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, were burned down by unidentified persons on the night of Aug. 18.
According to the Udayan group of newspapers’ general manager, Mr. Saravanabhavan, four people forced their way into the warehouses, chased away the security guards and set fire to the newsprint. Two buildings were also completely destroyed. The warehouses contained newsprint and electronic equipment.
Saravanabhavan told Free Media Movement (FMM) that the newsprint and electronic items burned were worth Rs0.3 million (P1.47 million).
The Udayan group of newspapers has been facing continual harassment for the last six months. Four of its employees had been killed. The newspaper staff had also been getting death threats.
Udayan is the best selling and oldest newspaper in the war-ravaged Jaffna peninsula.
It has been the main provider of daily information to the people in the absence of television or radio stations, according to FMM. Even under the week-long curfew imposed in Jaffna, it has been able to print six pages daily and distribute them despite many obstacles. (FMM/IFEX)
Thugs, gov’t, and police top list of ‘Enemies of Press Freedom’
On the 12th anniversary of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the advocacy division of AJI Indonesia released its report on the rate of violence against journalists in the past year.
Included in the annual report released on Aug. 11 were the provinces and cities with the highest rates of violence, and the 2006 list of “Enemies of Press Freedom.”
From August 2005 to August 2006, AJI Indonesia recorded 64 cases of violence against the press. The most dangerous places for journalists were Jakarta (13 cases of violence), East Java (8 cases), and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (8 cases).
Topping the list of enemies of press freedom were the mobs and thugs who committed 23 cases of violence. Placing second were government figures (district heads, regents, governors, ministerial staffs, etc.) who were responsible for 14 cases. Policemen placed third with eight cases. (AJI/IFEX)
Radio journalist shot dead in Colombia
Milton Fabian Sanchez, a journalist for radio station Yumbo Estéreo, was murdered on Aug. 9 in Yumbo, a city in southeastern Colombia.
Sanchez was on his way home at about 10:30 p.m. when he was approached by two attackers who shot him twice from a motor-cycle.
Seriously wounded, Sanchez was first taken to the Hospital La Buena Esperanza in Yumbo, and then moved to the Hospital Universitario del Valle, where he died at midnight.
Sanchez hosted several programs namely, Administrative Observations, on the Yumbo municipal council, and La Personería. He also presided over a community program called Roundtable (“Mesa Redonda”) which dealt with political issues.
Leonardo Orozco, a Yumbo Estéreo announcer said that Sanchez had not received any threats nor had he been dealing with the topics of public order or corruption.
According to Andrés Lizaralde, an official with the press office of the Yumbo municipal council, “Typically, Sanchez would deal with community issues, since he was so close to the Yumbo municipal council’s community action program.”
Colombia ranks closely with Philippines as the most dangerous countries for journalists outside of Iraq. At least three journalists had been killed yearly in Colombia since 2001. (FLIP/IFEX)
Mexican editor of crime magazine murdered
Enrique Perea Quintanilla, a long-time police reporter who became editor of a crime magazine, was found dead on the outskirts of the northern city of Chihuahua, Mexico, on Aug. 9.
Perea’s body was found at 2 p.m. on the side of a road about 15 km south of Chihuahua, according to the state’s prosecution spokesman Eduardo Esparza, as quoted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Perea was shot once in the head and once in the back with a .45-caliber gun.
Perea was an editor of a monthly magazine, Dos Caras, Una Verdad (“Two Sides, One Truth”), which specialized in reporting on closed murder cases and local drug trafficking. He had worked for 20 years as a police reporter for the dailies El Heraldo and El Diario until becoming the magazine’s editor in 2005.
The journalist was last seen leaving his office in his car at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, but the car was found abandoned in Chihuahua’s center that night. Perea’s two sons reported the journalist missing.
The state prosecutor’s office believes the murder was the work of organized crime.
In the July edition of Dos Caras, Una Verdad, Perea pub-lished an interview with an un-named local drug lord, detailing his trafficking operations.
Four Mexican journalists had been killed in direct reprisal for their work in the last five years, according to CPJ. CPJ is also investigating the slayings of six other journalists, whose murders may also be related to their work.
In addition, two other reporters remain missing. Alfredo Jiménez Mota of the Hermosillo daily El Imparcial has been missing since April 2, 2005, and is feared dead. Rafael Ortiz Martínez, reporter for the Monclova-based daily Zócalo and host of the local morning news program Radio Zócalo, has been missing since July 8.
On Feb. 22, in response to a wave of drug-related violence against journalists, President Vicente Fox appointed David Vega Vera, a well-known lawyer and human rights advocate, as special prosecutor for crimes against the press. The Mexican president agreed to take the step after meeting with CPJ officials in New York last year.
Following a series of interviews with reporters in the crime-ridden city of Nuevo Laredo, CPJ reported that attacks and intimidation have devastated the local media and essentially halted in-depth coverage of crime, corruption, and drug trafficking. (CPJ/IFEX)
2 Fox News journalists abducted in Gaza City
Two foreign journalists working for Fox News Channel were abducted Aug. 14 by unidentified Palestinian gunmen.
According to news reports, gunmen ambushed a Fox News Channel crew on Omar al-Mukhtar Street in the center of Gaza City. Abducted were correspondent Steve Centanni, an American, and freelance cameraman Olaf Wiig, who is from New Zealand.
On Aug. 27, Centanni and Wiig were released. A group called Holy Jihad Brigade claimed responsibility over the kidnapping.
Two vehicles trapped the journalists’ satellite uplink truck marked “TV.” Gunmen forced the driver to the ground and took the two journalists, reports said.
A source at Fox News said no group had claimed respon-sibility for the kidnapping. The source said that the governing Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, had called for the two journalists to be freed immediately.
Seven other journalists have been kidnapped in Gaza over the last year. All were released unharmed. The last abduction was on March 14 when Caroline Laurent, a reporter for the French weekly ELLE, Alfred Yagho-bzadeh, a photographer from the photo agency SIPA, and Yong Tae-young, a correspondent for South Korea’s public broadcaster KBS, were seized by gunmen. All three were released unharmed 22 hours later.
Past kidnappings appear to be the work of private individuals or groups seeking to use foreign hostages as bargaining chips to secure the release of colleagues or relatives imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority. (CPJ/IFEX)