5 Sri Lanka journalists, among 64 dead covering news in 2007

A media watchdog group said Monday that 64 journalists in 17 countries have died while covering the news in 2007 — the deadliest year in more than a decade.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in an annual report that Iraq led the list for the fifth year in a row, with 31 dead — one fewer than a year ago. Somalia was second with seven dead in 2007, and Pakistan and Sri Lanka each recorded five deaths.

Details of Sri Lankan Journalists, reported by CPJ:

SRI LANKA: 5

Subash Chandraboas, Nilam, April 16, 2007, near Vavuniya

Chandraboas, 32, editor of a small Tamil-language monthly magazine, Nilam (The Ground), was shot to death at around 7:30 p.m. near his home in the government-controlled town of Thoanikkal, near Vavuniya in ethnically Tamil Sri Lanka. His 8-year old-daughter told CPJ that the assassins spoke in Tamil and Sinhala.

“His only work was journalism,” said Sunanda Deshapriya of the Sri Lankan media rights group Free Media Movement. “There was no other reason to kill him.”

A strong individualist who owned his own printing press, Chandraboas produced Nilam almost single-handedly and was recognized for his passion for literature as well as journalism. He had also contributed to the London-based magazine Tamil World and the Colombo-based magazine Aravali on a freelance basis.

Selvarajah Rajeewarnam, Uthayan, April 29, 2007, Jaffna

Rajeewarnam,
a reporter for the Tamil-language daily Uthayan, was aboard a bicycle on assignment in Jaffna when he was shot by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen about 600 feet (180 meters) from a military checkpoint, according to Uthayan staffers.

Rajeewarnam, a Tamil, had worked for another Tamil paper, Namadu Eelanadu, which closed soon after its managing editor, Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, was killed outside his home in Jaffna in August 2006. Rajeewarnam had worked at Uthayan for about four months.

Uthayan has often been under attack. In September 2006, CPJ called on Sri Lankan authorities to fulfill their duty to protect Uthayan’s staff after receiving a telephone plea from E. Saravanapavan, the paper’s managing director, to publicize the numerous threats against his staff.

Isaivizhi Chempiyan, Voice of Tigers, November 27, 2007
Suresh Linbiyo, Voice of Tigers, November 27, 2007
T. Tharmalingam, Voice of Tigers, November 27, 2007

Three journalists for the Voice of Tigers radio station in Kilinochchi—announcer Chempiyan and technicians Linbiyo and Tharmalingam—were killed in a Sri Lankan Air Force air strike.

Fighter jets dropped a dozen bombs on the station shortly before Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was due to broadcast a statement. At least five other people were killed in the strike against the LTTE-run station, according to local media reports.

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