UNESCO Director-General condemns killing of two Tamil newspaper employees in JaffnaThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the assassination of two employees of the Tamil newspaper Uthyan, Bastian George Sagayathas (Suresh), and Rajaratnam Ranjith, in Jaffna on 2 May, the eve of World Press Freedom Day.
“I condemn this brutal deed,” said the Director-General during his address at the award-giving ceremony of this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Lebanese television journalist May Chidiac, who survived an assassination attempt last December that left her handicapped. “I am gratified,” Mr Matsuura added, “by the Sri Lankan government’s promise to take every possible step to bring the culprits to justice.”
Speaking at the Press Freedom Day celebration, the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, declared: “We see this attack as an attempt to destroy values and principles that are both sacred and dear to all freedom loving societies and peoples.”
Mass Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana earlier declared that “the government takes a very serious view of this attack and will take every possible step to bring the culprits to book.”
Masked men entered the offices of the Uthyan Newspaper in Jaffna at 7.45 p.m. on 2 May shot at employees, killing Marketing Manager, Bastian George Sagayathas (Suresh), and Rajaratnam Ranjith, also an employee of the paper. Two other newspaper employees were injured in the attack.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”