Sri Lanka: Reporter murdered outside church

Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo-1
Sri Lanka

VIA FAX: 011-94-1-333-703

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the December 31 murder of Vasthian Anthony Mariyadas, a free-lance radio reporter who was on assignment for the state-run Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation when he was shot dead in the northern town of Vavuniya.

The assassination took place outside St. Anthony's Church, where Mariyadas had gone to cover the New Year's Eve midnight mass service for a radio program broadcast in the northern region. A lone gunman shot Mariyadas in the head. The journalist died before he could be taken to the hospital, according to CPJ's sources. Police estimated the time of death as 10:15 p.m.

As an organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ is profoundly dismayed by the number of journalists recently killed in Sri Lanka:

  • September 9, 1999: Unidentified assailants shot and killed Rohana Kumara, chief editor of the Sinhala-language tabloid newspaper Satana.

  • November 2, 1999: Unidentified gunmen assassinated Atputharajah Nadarajah, editor of the Tamil newspaper Thinamurusu and a member of parliament representing the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP).

  • December 18, 1999: Shrapnel from a suicide bombing, in which Your Excellency was seriously injured, fatally wounded Indika Pathinivasan of Sri Lanka's privately-owned Maharaja Television Network and Anura Priyantha of the state-owned Independent Television Network, both camera assistants.
    While Pathinivasan and Priyantha were clearly killed in the line of duty, it is not yet known whether Kumara, Nadarajah, and Mariyadas were targeted for their journalistic work. CPJ urges Your Excellency to ensure that their cases are investigated thoroughly, and that the results of these investigations are promptly made public.

    We thank you for your attention to these urgent matters, and await your response.


    Sincerely,

    Ann K. Cooper
    Executive Director



    Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in Sri Lanka

    Send a letter to:

    Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
    President, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
    Presidential Secretariat
    Colombo-1
    Sri Lanka

    VIA FAX: 011-94-1-333-703

January 6, 2000 12:00 PM ET |

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