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Fears for Tamil journalist Sivaram's Safety


Reporters Without Borders fears for safety of Tamil journalist Dharmaratnam Sivaram

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) has expressed its fears for the safety of Tamil journalist Dhamaratnam Sivaram ("Taraki") head of the news website www.tamilnet.com, who has received threats and had his Colombo home searched by police.

The international press freedom organisation urged home affairs minister Amarasiri Dodangoda for a public explanation of the treatment of Sivaram, a columnist and head of the news website www.tamilnet.com, and to provide genuine guarantees for his safety.

Around 40 police raided Sivaram's home on the night of 3 May 2004 - World Press Freedom Day. The journalist was out at the time but his wife and three children were at home. The family feel intimidated. They were only shown an identification car by a police officer. Police, who told the family that they were looking for weapons, searched his office. Possession of weapons is an offence for which an accused can not be bailed under Sri lankan law.

Sivaram, a regular contributor to the Tamil service of the BBC World Service, also received threats from an unknown source. Journalists in Colombo told Reporters Without Borders that paramilitary groups from the east of the country, could want revenge on Tamilnet.com for recent coverage of the spilt from LTTE lead by former eastern commander Karuna.

"Dharmaratnam Sivaram has enough enemies for some vengeful groups to take advantage of the post-electoral situation to target a journalist known to have condemned them and for his stance in support of the Norwegian-sponsored peace process," said Reporters Without Borders in its letter to Amarasiri Dodangoda. This search was conducted while Norwegian peace delegates are in Colombo at the invitation of the president.

Sivaram himself told the organisation, "there appears to be a major threat to my life." In 2001, Sivaram was branded as a spy for the Tamil Tigers and was attacked by armed men.

Tamil journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was murdered a few days after October 2000 elections, the organisation recalled.

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