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Murder of Sri Lankan journalist

Murder of Sri Lankan journalist prompts condemnation by UNESCO chief

28 August 2006 – As part of his ongoing campaign to highlight threats to press freedom worldwide, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the murder of a journalist in Sri Lanka.

Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, the managing director of Namathu Eelanadu, a Tamil-language newspaper, was shot and killed on 20 August in Vellippalai.

Mr. Sivamaharajah was a former Member of Parliament for the Tamil United Liberation Front and a member of the Tamil National Alliance. Fighting between the separatist Tamil Tigers and Government forces has escalated in recent months.

“I am very concerned about the targeting of journalists and media workers in the conflict in Sri Lanka and must remind all parties that the killing of journalists will not help them achieve their end,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, in a statement issued in Paris.

“The use of force to silence the press only serves to undermine public debate, thus obstructing the road to a peaceful settlement,” Mr. Matsuura added. “I call on all parties to respect the fundamental human right of freedom of expression and those who practise it.”

Mr. Sivamaharajah is the fourth journalist killed in Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2005, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
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