Director-General condemns murder of Sri Lankan newspaper managing director Sinnathamby SivamaharajahThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, the managing director of Namathu Eelanadu, a Tamil-language newspaper, in Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka, on 20 August.
“I condemn the murder of Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah,” the Director-General declared. “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.
“The use of force to silence the press only serves to undermine public debate thus obstructing the road to a peaceful settlement,” the Director-General added. “I call on all parties to respect the fundamental human right of freedom of expression and those who practice it.”
Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, who was shot dead in Vellippalai, was a former Member of Parliament for the Tamil United Liberation Front, and a member of the Tamil National Alliance. He is the fourth journalist killed in Sri Lanka since the beginning of 2005, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
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…”