condemns government’s ‘preventive censorship’ moves
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders organisation yesterday
condemned moves to prevent the media obtaining information
following violent clashes in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka,
which inflicted heavy casualties to both sides.
The media watchdog charged that the government was trying to win
the news war by doing the utmost to keep journalists away from
combat zones and medical facilities and that it was also trying
to influence the editorial stance of both local and national
“The clashes and the evident losses have pushed the military
authorities into establishing ‘preventive censorship,’ such as
preventing photographers and reporters from reaching hospitals
and morgues to establish the death toll,” the worldwide press
freedom organisation said.
“The contradictory statements by those involved and constant
pressure from the government, which only wants to see the most
patriotic articles, shows the urgent need for independent
coverage of events currently shaking the region,” it added.
On April 24, soldiers prevented photographers from entering a
Colombo hospital in which wounded soldiers were being treated.
The media watchdog said that in one of the most violent
engagements in the Jaffna peninsula in recent years, security
forces battled LTTE fighters, leaving losses apparently much
heavier than those reported by either side. Each side claimed to
have killed around 100 troops.
While the Defence Ministry said on the day of the battle that 43
soldiers had been killed and that 33 others were missing,
unofficial military sources said the Army had lost 185 men and
that 20 were missing.
The Army also claimed to have killed more than 3,000 LTTE
fighters since the start of 2008, which corresponds to the
figure for the total Tiger force provided by the military
command six months earlier.