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Cablegate: Grenade Attack On Pro-Ltte Newspaper Office Shakes

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958:N/A
SUBJECT: Grenade attack on pro-LTTE newspaper office shakes
independent media

REFTELS: A) Colombo 812; B) Colombo 832 C) Colombo 1451

1. (U) Summary: Two men threw two grenades into the
premises of the Sudar Oli newspaper office in Colombo August
29, killing one and injuring three. Sudar Oli, an
unapologetically pro-LTTE paper, was the object of an
unsuccessful grenade attack on one of its Colombo branch
offices on August 20, as well as the alleged assault of one
of its photographers at an anti-LTTE demonstration organized
by a Sinhala nationalist party on August 23. Some local
English and Tamil media have already pointed a finger at the
Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for
the incidents, while others speculate the attacks may
involve infighting between rival Tamil parties. Police have
not yet arrested any suspects in the incident. End Summary.

2. (U) In the early evening of August 29, two men riding a
motorcycle threw two grenades into the pro-LTTE Sudar Oli
main office in Colombo. One grenade exploded, killing one
Tamil security guard, injuring three office workers, and
causing extensive damage. This attack came just ten days
after another Sudar Oli office in Colombo was attacked with
a grenade which did not explode. Two days after the first
incident, a junior Sudar Oli photographer was assaulted by a
mob at an anti-LTTE rally organized by the Sinhala
nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) party.
According to a Sudar Oli press statement, a JVP mob,
allegedly suspecting the photographer of being an LTTE spy,
beat him, and snatched his digital camera, wallet, mobile
phone, and press card before turning him over to police who
held him for less than a day. Other English and Sinhala
news organizations alleged he was videotaping the protest,
raising suspicion he might be photographing the crowd for an
LTTE hit list.

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3. (SBU) Following the incident with the Sudar Oli
photographer, Sudar Oli released a press statement assigning
blame to the JVP for the first grenade attack. A leading
Tamil attorney for several Tamil political organizations
told Information Officer the Sudar Oli owner and Managing
Editor/Director, E. Saravanapavan, felt under threat from
JVP officials after the first bombing attempt. Saravanapavan
told us that early August 30, around 1 AM, two or three men
parked in a van outside his gate tried to lure him out by
claiming they had information about the office bombing.

4. (SBU) Sudar Oli is an independent paper published by
Mass Media Syndicate, owned by Saravanapavan, a Jaffna-born
Tamil. It has been published in Colombo for ten years, and
its sister paper, Uthayan, has been published in Jaffna
since 1985. Both papers regularly defend the LTTE.
Saravanapavan stated, "We are both part of the Tamil
movement. One section carries a gun, one section carries a

5. (U) Suspicion abounds that the JVP was behind the bombing
of the Sudar Oli office. Independent MTV implied the JVP was
responsible when the network aired several speeches by JVP
Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa strongly criticizing
the newspaper. MTV also rebroadcast interviews with
Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of the Sunday Leader, and
Sunanda Deshapriya, Convener of the Free Media Movement, who
alleged the JVP is trying to stifle the media through
intimidation. On the other hand, Free Media Movement
Convener Sunanda Deshapriya commented yesterday that though
the JVP has criticized Sudar Oli, the bombing of the
newspaper office was more likely the work of a rival Tamil

6. (SBU) Comment: This attack is the latest in a series of
attacks on Tamil journalists, ranging from the trashing of a
Shakti (MTV) television office in Jaffna last year to the
murder of prominent Tamil commentator D. Sivaram in April
(reftel A) to the murder three weeks ago of a state TV
journalist and her husband in broad daylight (reftel C).
While no conclusive evidence has emerged to identify the
culprits of these incidents, suspects include the JVP, as
well as rival Tamil factions, such as the EPDP (Eelam
People's Democratic Party)and PLOTE (People's Liberation
Organization of Tamil Eelam) both of which oppose the LTTE.
No matter who is responsible, these incidents have instilled
even greater fear among Tamil journalists who write about
political issues. We will continue to urge respect for the
media and to condemn attacks on journalists in our
discussions with all relevant parties. End Comment.


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