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Sri Lanka: UNESCO chief condemns murder of journalist

Sri Lanka: UNESCO chief condemns murder of journalist

UNESCO head Koïchiro Matsuura
The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the murder of a Sri Lankan journalist, whose newspaper had reportedly been harassed by Tamil separatists, denouncing it as a blow against peace and democracy.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura called for a full investigation of the killing of Iyer Balanadarajah, better known as Sinna Baia, a reporter for the Tamil weekly Thinamurasu. It was the second assassination of a journalist in Sri Lanka this year.

“In view of the tragic violence that has marked so much of Sri Lanka's recent history, it is essential that freedom of the press be allowed to take root, if peace and democracy are to be sustained,” he said, adding that “like all killings of journalists, [it] constitutes a cowardly attack on democracy and rule of law.”

According to the non-governmental organization (NGO) Reporters Without Border, Mr. Balanadarajah’s newspaper has been subject to harassment from the insurgent Tamil Tigers (LTTE) movement. The NGO said another journalist working for the paper, Sadacharalingham Kamalathasan, was shot and wounded and the Tamil Tigers tried to stop the paper’s distribution in the eastern part of the country earlier this year.

Aiyathurai Nadesan, a Tamil journalist with the daily Virakesari Tamil, was shot dead on 31 May.