A chilling tale of the murder of a journalist and the political silence that followed: the BBC carries a report on the unsolved killing of Sri Lankan journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan 10 years ago.
Nimalarajan, who was working for the BBC covering the Sri Lankan separatist war, was murdered by unidentified gunmen on 19 October 2000.
His father has expressed anger at silence over the case from the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), a militant group that is now a political party.
Media watchdogs also accused the EPDP, headed by Minister Douglas Devananda, of being responsible for the killing to stop similar reports and to intimidate local journalists. He has always denied the allegations.
The programming was removed following “deliberate interference” with the broadcasts, though BBC content remained available via shortwave radio channels and online. At the time SLBC’s chairman said it was his duty to censor the BBC “at a time of war”, as fighting intensified between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.
“The BBC wishes to rebuild its partnership with SLBC – part of a strong relationship with listeners in Sri Lanka that goes back to the 1940s. We have been reassured by SLBC that our contractual agreement will be respected, which guarantees that our programmes in English, Sinhala, and Tamil are broadcast uninterrupted,” says Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, in a press release.
“Fighting in Gaza and Sri Lanka and the recent unrest in Iran all raised questions about how journalists can do their job when governments deny access (…) With the Israeli government relying more and more on public relations management and an increasingly sophisticated use of new media to get its message across, what is the role of the journalist in 21st century conflicts?”
The panel included Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC’s Global News division: Adrian Wells, head of foreign news, Sky News; and Jean Seaton Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster’s Communication and Media Research Institute
Karen Phillips reports on the latest research from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): ‘Journalists in Exile 2009’.
“Sri Lankan journalists flee under severe pressure in the past year. Iraq and Somalia, two deadly countries for the press, also rank high in numbers of journalists forced into exile. Hundreds of journalists have been driven into exile this decade.”
“Nearly 400 journalists have been forced into exile worldwide since 2001, when CPJ began compiling detailed data. Illustrating the extraordinary dangers facing these journalists at home, more than 330 of them remain in exile today.”
Journalists, photographers and filmmakers came together at the Frontline Club last night for a special screening of Kate Adie’s latest documentary.
Shot entirely on tapeless cameras, the film retraces Kate’s footsteps of reporting from the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Returning to China with what she describes as ‘an open mind’, Adie found herself ‘at the mercy of relentless surveillence by the secret police’.
Adie found fame back in 1989 when she was one of the few journalists reporting from the middle of the action, amongst gunfire and dead bodies. She told the audience that she made a pact with her cameraman to stay for the sake of the story, despite the odds of them surviving being stacked against them.
This time round Kate and her crew were denied journalist visas, forcing them to effectively go undercover, under the false pretence of being tourists.
Despite being followed by numerous secret police cars throughout the filming process, she said people were ‘desperate to talk and tell their story of the events of 1989’.
At the Q&A session people were quick to ask Adie her thoughts on the state of journalism:
One journalist asked: “Do you think the quality of journalism has declined over the past 20 years, with regard to the reporting on Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka?”
“Journalists have a duty to report and inform the world, the fact that people come to meetings like these here and care about global issues, tells me journalism is alive and well.”
“We’ve all watched the cutting of foreign news budgets for so long that we’ve become almost numb to it,” comments Andrew Stroehlein, communications director for the International Crisis Group, on the Reuters AlertNet blog.
“Another bureau cut here, another three correspondent posts dropped there – drip, drip, drip – the dwindling capacity of overseas news gathering is constant background noise. Or ever-increasing silence, perhaps.
“But now we’ve come to two situations that show us what the world will be like when there are no foreign correspondents left,” Strohlein says – pointing to Somalia and Sri Lanka as examples.
“The tremendous wave of worldwide emotion that has been created by his death has embarrassed this nation. Whether his death will bring the liberty enjoyed elsewhere to this island, or whether it will slip further into repression, is yet to be seen,” writes Lal Wickrematunge, brother of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered last month.
Our woman on the ground at GIJC Lillehammer (well, she was on duty for Journalisten.no, but we managed to nab a little bit of her spare time) has sent these rather insightful pictures back. It turns out that there might be a correlation between investigative skills and musical talent.
And, Ana Simonovska, a Macedonian journalist with an exceptional voice, accompanied by David Kaplan.
Musical talents aside, here’s Sonali Samarasinghe, being caught on a mobile phone camera as she’s awarded the Global Shining Light Award, for her articles covering corruption and abuse of power in Sri Lanka.
It seems that the musical talent wasn’t shared by the British journalists – where was Robert Fisk while these pictures were taken?
“The current situation is dramatic and most journalists seeking asylum – who mainly come from Eritrea, Iran, Iraq or Sri Lanka – have difficulty finding refuge,” the letter says. “The long waits in the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the almost systematic refusal of western embassies to grant them visas force the great majority to risk their lives by resorting to illegal immigration methods.
“For this reason, there is an urgent need not only to recognise the refugee status of journalists in your country seeking asylum but also to facilitate procedures for protected entry and emergency resettlement.”