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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 950

Sudar Oli – A Tamil language news paper linked to the Tamil rebels bombed, one killed two seriously injured.

Colombo, 30 August, (Asiantribune.com): The Sudar Oli, the Colombo based Tamil-language daily news paper linked to the Tamil rebel outfit, which carries the image of Tiger Supremo Velupillai Prabakaran in its masthead is one more time in the hotspot, as unidentified persons lobbed hand grenades yesterday evening at 6 pm into its office injuring three, out of which one Tamil security guard succumbed to the injuries after being admitted to the hospital.

The incident occurred according to the police report at the Sudar oli office and press located on Madampitiya Road at Grandpas, in Colombo.

According to a Free Media Movement statement: “Two persons entered the premises of Sudar Oli printing press and hurled two grenades towards the door. D. Selvarathnam, ( 60) a security guard who was at the door was seriously injured and admitted to the general hospital, Colombo. He succumbed to injuries latter. Another two persons who were injured admitted to the hospital.”

A news agency came up with a conflicting report: “Attackers on a bicycle hurled grenades at a Tamil-language newspaper office in the capital of Colombo, killing a security guard.”

It further added,” Staff members of Sudar Oli said the attackers had arrived on a bicycle -- with one man pedaling and the other sitting on a rear seat and hurling two grenades. “

Meanwhile a pro-LTTE news website reported, “Two people, attackers were riding in a white van and sped away soon after they lobbed the grenades into the Sudar Oli printing office located on Madampitiya Road at Grandpass.”

The septuagenarian K.K.Ratnasingham, Chief Editor of Sudar Oli told in a report,” A security guard was killed in Monday's attack.” Two others, including a proofreader, were injured in the evening explosion and taken to the hospital.

Ratnasingham said four vehicles were damaged and windows were blown out. He said it was the third attack by those trying to silence the newspaper.

"Even if just one person remains, we will continue the newspaper," he declared.

"They will not silence us,” he challenged. But the Editor had failed to clarify who that “They” he has alleged in the report.

Recently on 23 August, Yathurshan Premachchandran, claimed to be a photo-journalist of the Tamil daily "Sudar Oli" was assaulted at a JVP demonstration held in front of the Fort Railway station, suspected as an LTTE rebel and later he was handed over to the police.

Prior to this incident, on 20 August round 5:30 p.m in the evening, it was reported that unidentified person had lobbed two grenades inside the advertising office of the Tamil daily Sudaroli’s sister paper Uthayan located in Perara Mawatta, Wellawatte, in Colombo.

Those two grenades did not explode. Sri Lanka Army spokesman said it was found that the detonator pins of the two grenades were not removed, as alleged that they were lobbed into the a advertising office of the newspaper.

Following the attack on the “Uthayan” advertising office on 20 August and the attack on the so called Photo journalists of Sudar Oli on 23 August, E.Saravanapavan Managing Editor / Managing Director and also formerly the Managing director of the now defunct "Sabra Finance Company" released a statement addressed “To all Diplomatic Missions” as follows:

To All Diplomatic Missions

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Attack on Sudar Oli Branch office and assault of Sudar Oli Reporter.

A tragic situation has arisen in Sri Lanka today. The press freedom is at stake. The very existence especially of Tamil newspaper institutions is threatened. The Tamil journalists are demoralized and they fear for their lives. On Saturday 20/08/2005 a hand grenade was thrown inside the branch office of Sudar Oli, one of the national Tamil daily newspapers of Sri Lanka at Wellawatta in the capital city of Colombo. Luckily the hand grenade did not explode and the three employees who were there at that time escaped unhurt and no damage was caused to the office.

Two days later on 23/08/2005 Sudar Oli junior reporter Premachandran Yathurshan was Severely assaulted and his digital camera, mobile phone, purse, his letter of appointment as SudarOli reporter and other documents in his possession were snatched by a JVP mob when he went on an official assignment to cover a JVP demonstration in front of the Colombo Fort railway station. He was then handed over to the police as a suspected LTTE spy taking photographs of the demonstrations. This incident drives one to the conclusion that the JVP's hand in the Wellawatte Sudar Oli branch office grenade incident cannot be ruled out. The past record of the JVP is blood stained. It was a terror movement. It killed thousands of innocent people.

Rebelled against the government to topple it and take control. They later
took a different course. They allied with the SLFP, fought the general
election as a coalition party and won 39 seats in Parliament. Thereby they were able to become partners in President Chandrika Kumaratunga's coalition government. Right along they had disagreements with the President and her party SLFP over matters concerning the LTTE and the peace process.

When the government came to an agreement with the LTTE to work together to develop all areas, including those under LTTE control and help the tsunami affected people with the enormous funds received from the international community, world governments and banks. The JVP could not stomach that. They pulled out from the government and coalition in protest and continued their campaign of discrediting the LTTE and thereby the Tamil people whom they are representing.

In this scenario the JVP which belives it is the true embodiment of Sinhala nationalism expects the media to toe their (JVP) line and not to reflect the aspirations of the minority Tamils whose grievance is that they are oppressed, suppressed, discriminated and their rights are refused. They clamour for freedom, dignity, honour and equal treatment. The press is the heart and soul of the entire Nation. Any Language paper is the voice of the Nation. But the Tamil language paper has an added responsibility towards the Tamils as they are the affected people and it is their language paper. When the Tamil papers try to accomplish this task the JVP and their accomplices not realizing the truth get irritated and turn violent. Their first target is our Sudar Oli newspaper and its Journalist.

Today it is Sudar Oli and its journalist. Tomorrow the victims may be the journalists of the other Tamil newspapers and English and Sinhala newspapers as well.

That is why attack on Sudar Oli branch office and assault of Sudar Oli
journalist is widely condemned as a mean and barbaric act designed to bury democracy, destroy freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the basic human rights. Not only the main opposition party UNP, but thegovernment as well have condemned this vandalism.

The government has reiterated that it stands firmly for the preservation of
press freedom and any effort to undermine this will not be tolerated. The
government has pointed a finger towards the JVP and said that the JVP
demonstrators had taken the law into their hands and assaulted the SudarOli journalist. They have no right to do this. If they suspected him they should have handed him over to the police for necessary action without harming him in anyway.

No doubt these are soothing and encouraging words from the government. Butthe urgent need of the hour is action against the culprits. The assaultedjournalist was taken to the court but none of those who assaulted him havebeen arrested and brought to book. The assaulted suspect is under the arm of the law. The offenders are free. Then what is the guarantee that they will not repeat such actions - actions which could create racial upheavals?

The government's firm and determined action in this matter will help to
build up press freedom solidly and preserve it. More over it will give
journalists confidence and courage and above all the sense of security todo their duty earnestly. The media managements will also do their best.

We wish the international community, which strives hard to bring peace andprosperity to this country address its mind to this matter as well.

Thank you

E.Saravanapavan

Managing Editor / Managing Director

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