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HomeTamils - a Trans State Nation > One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century > Aiyathurai Nadesan

CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION
Last updated
14/07/07

Audio Visual Presentation - Dharmeratnam Sivaram on murder of Aiyathurai Nadesan
Contribution to Truth by  Sri Lanka's State Controlled Press
Pattern of Intimidation and Murder to Silence Independent Journalists
Tamil Centre for Human Rights Memorial Meeting for Aiyathurai Nadesan in Paris, 9 June 2004
Protest demonstration in Colombo 9 June 2004
One day Hartal in Trincomalee. 9 June 2004
Large crowds attend Nadesan's funeral in his hometown in Jaffna,  3 June 2004
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) RSF condemns Nadesan's murder, 1 June 2004
New York Based Committee to Protect Journalists News Alert, 1 June 2004
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, February 2002 "...Aiyathurai Nadesan, a veteran journalist in Batticaloa, Vice-President of the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and recipent of the Best Journalist of 2000 prize awarded by the Sri Lanka Editors’ Guild, was summoned on 17 July 2001 to the office of Colonel Manawaduge, the commander of the 23-3 battalion in Batticaloa, threatened and accused of writing solely anti-Government and anti-military news and articles.."
Move to make SLA camp permanent sparks protest, July 2003 "...the move to make the SLA camp in Kallady permanent is seriously undermining the people’s positive attitude towards peace”, said Mr. Aiyathurai Nadesan, senior correspondent and political columnist for the Tamil daily Virakesari in Batticaloa..."
Free Media Movement, July 2001 "...The Commanding Officer of the 23-3 Battalion in Batticaloa has warned and threatened reporter Aiyathurai Nadesan on July 17, 2001..."
 

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

Aiyathurai Nadesan

'...States that want to oppress a people do so by breaking their political will to resist injustice. To do this, oppressing states kill a society's intellectuals and journalists who speak for the rights of their people. They want the Tamils to be intellectually rudderless. It is easier to enslave a people who have lost their ability to understand the nature of their oppression...'  Dharmeratnam Sivaram (who was himself shot dead on 28 April 2005) speaking at Memorial Meeting for  Slain Batticaloa Journalist, Aiyathurai Nadesan on 7 August 2004


Aiyathurai NadesanAiyathurai Nadesan, was Vice-President of the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance and recipient of the Best Journalist of 2000 Prize awarded by the Sri Lanka Editors’ Guild. He was the Batticaloa-based columnist for Virakesari, the country’s leading Tamil-language newspaper, for more than twenty years. He wrote under the pen name of G.Nellai Nadesan. He was also the local correspondent for Shakthi TV News and the London based International Broadcasting Coporation.

He was shot dead on 31 May 2004 on his way to work in Batticaloa by gunmen suspected to belong to a mercenary Tamil group working under the aegis of the Sri Lanka Army Command. Mr. Nadesan, the father of four children and aged 50 at the time of his death,  hailed from Nelliyadi, a town in North Jaffna District in Sri Lanka.

Mr.Nadesan was a journalist who at at all times fearlessly stood up for that which he believed to be right.

On 3 April 2000 a bomb exploded at his home in Batticaloa. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression reported to the UN Commission on Human Rights in February 2002:

"Those responsible for the incident were linked to pro-Government Tamil paramilitaries. Mr. Nadesan had received a telephone death threat after his paper ran an article in March 2000 about atrocities committed by a member of the People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), an armed Tamil group that supports the Government’s battle against separatists. Mr. Nadesan had not written the article, although he had regularly written about the activities of PLOTE and other pro-Government Tamil groups in Batticaloa"

In July 2001 the Commanding Officer of the 23-3 Battalion in Batticaloa, Col. Manawaduge warned and threatened Mr. Nadesan. He was summoned to the Commanding Officer's office and told that he writes only anti-government and anti-military news and articles and warned that if he continues in this fashion, action would be taken against him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Mr. Nadesan was warned at the army camp office of how the JVPers in this country were shot dead for posting anti-government posters. This incident was the subject of an intervention by the Sri Lanka Free Media movement on 24 July 2001. This incident was also reported on by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression in February 2002.

In July 2003, when the Sri Lanka Army sought to expand its position by the Kallady beach to establish a large camp, and, under the Emergency Regulations, sought to take over 13 of the National Housing Development Authority quarters built for civilian housing. The move sparked protests and  Mr.Nadesan declared:

 “Tamils here see the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA)between the Tigers and Colombo as the basis for bringing about permanent peace because it holds out the promise that all the public buildings and utilities in Batticaloa, such as the Municipal Council, Library, Forest Department, thoroughfares etc., would eventually be returned to their rightful owners for the good of the people. The CFA stands on the belief that this land would be freed of all unnecessary military occupation when an acceptable solution is found at the end of the peace process. But the move to make the Sri Lanka Army camp in Kallady permanent is seriously undermining the people’s positive attitude towards peace”

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Mr.Nadesan's murder. "We are outraged by the murder of Aiyathurai Nadesan and urge authorities to find and punish those responsible for this crime," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. The Paris based Reporters Sans Frontieres called upon the authorities to keep them informed of progress 'in the investigation into this new crime against the press". Vanni journalists condemned Nadesan’s murder and the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance warned that killings threatened press freedom.

"We consider the murder of our colleague Aiyathurai Nadesan as a serious warning to all Tamil journalists, especially to those working in the NorthEast. These horrendous acts are designed to strangle journalists from speaking out. We urge all those who cherish press freedom and democracy to pressure the Sri Lanka Government to take immediate steps to safeguard the journalists from murder and harassment, and to bring to justice those who perpetrate dastardly crimes on Tamil journalists who question oppression and injustice."

Large crowds attended Nadesan's funeral on 3 June 2004 in his hometown Nelliyady in the Jaffna peninsula. "The normal life of Nelliyady, came to a standstill. Shops were closed. The hearse was taken to the Nelliyady Madhya Maha Vidiyalayam Thursday morning from his residence where funeral orations were delivered by TNA parliamentarians Messrs M.K.Sivajilingam, C.Gajendran, Suresh Premachchandran, Jaffna district LTTE political head Mr.C.Ilamparithi, LTTE Judiciary head Mr.Para and Mr.Sunanda Deshapriya of the Free Media Movement" A protest demonstration  was held in Colombo on 9 June 2004, condemning the Nadesan Killing  and a one day Hartal was observed in Trincomalee.


Tamil Centre for Human Rights
Memorial Meeting for Aiyathurai Nadesan in Paris
9 June 2004


A memorial meeting was held on 9 June 2004 under the auspices of the Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR, for senior journalist A. Nadesan who was brutally killed in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. The meeting was held in the Temple Hall in Paris. Several journalists, members of civil society including a representative from Rapporteurs Sans Frontieres – RSF and the hall packed full of people attended this ceremony to pay their respects to Mr. Nadesan.

On 31 May 2004, Mr. Aiyathurai Nadesan was shot dead by so called unidentified gunmen in Batticaloa, while he was going to work on a motorbike. Mr. Nadesan, who had been reporting to the Tamil daily, "Virakesari", International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and to some daily electronic media, became a victim for practising his profession.

Mr. Nadesan won the North East Sahithya Academy award for his book written in Tamil "History of Ethnic Strife". He also won the best Tamil journalist award in year 2000. He was one of the founder members of Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) and held the post of Vice-President of this association.

Mr. Vincent Thevasagayam, presided over the meeting. In his speech he called for an immediate independent inquiry into the brutal killing of Mr. Nadesan. The memorial meeting commenced with a minute silence, followed by lighting of the traditional oil lamp by Mr. Kandiah Navarendran, attorney at law.

The representative of Rapporteurs Sans Frontieres (RSF – Reporters Without Borders), Mr. Vincent Brossel said that Mr. Nadesan is not the first journalist to be killed in Sri Lanka! In the year 2000, Mr. Nirmalarajan was killed in Jaffna. The serial killing continues. The RSF representative insisted that the crimin! alising of political activities in Sri Lanka should be stopped immediately. He raised concerns about the safety of journalists working in Sri Lanka.

The General Secretary of TCHR, Mr. S.V. Kirubaharan, gave a short history of how the freedom of press and the journalists are suffering in the hands of the authorities in Sri Lanka. He said that it has no meaning to say these killings are being done by unknown gunmen! Everyone knows who the killers are, it is no longer a secret! What is surprising is the way these killings are being done and justified in international forums.

The Editor of Eelanadu Mr. Sivaguru Balachandran, Administrative editor of Eelamurasu Mr. Thiraloan, news editor of Tamil Television Network (TTN) Mr. Sritharan, the representative of ABC-Radio Mr. Ariyaratnam and Mr. Chelliah Jeyachandran were the speakers in this meeting.

The brutal killing of Mr. Nadesan was condemned by every speaker and speakers claimed that the Sri Lanka government should bear responsibility for this killing. There followed much discussions, feelings and various creative ideas were expressed.The meeting ended by sending a condolence message to Mr Nadesan’s family.


Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) RSF condemns Nadesan's murder

[TamilNet, June 01, 2004 21:57 GMT]

The Paris based world media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres) Tuesday condemns the murder of Tamil journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan in Batticaloa

"We call on the authorities to keep us informed of progress in the investigation into this new crime against the press, the organisation said.

Nadesan was gunned down as he was going to work at about 8:00 a.m. by two men on a motorcycle who got away. His body was taken to the local hospital where an autopsy was carried out.

The online news agency tamilnet.com said Nadesan worked for the daily Virakesari Tamil, the Tamil-language service of the London-based radio station IBC and several online media. He was known for criticising the Sri Lankan army and paramilitary groups in his weekly column in Virakesari Tamilšs Sunday edition.

His murder comes amid a resurgence of violence linked to a split within the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). After signing a cease-fire with the government, the LTTE is having to deal with the emergence of an armed breakaway faction. Nadesan was considered to be close to LTTE.

A prominent member of the local press, Nadesan received the prize for the best Tamil journalist in 2000. He was briefly detained in July 2001 and threatened by an army officer with prosecution under the Prevention of Terrorism Act because of his criticism of the government and the security forces. He was married and had three children.

Myilvaganam Nimalarajan, a Jaffna-based stringer for the Sinhala-language service of the BBC World Service, was killed in October 2000 at a time of tension within the different Tamil movements. Despite national and international pressure, his murder remains unpunished."

Meanwhile, Liberation Tigers have alleged that Mr. Nadesan's murder is part of a campaign by elements of the Sri Lanka Army against their cadres and intellectuals supporting their political stand in the Batticaloa-Amparai region.

The SLA is using several Tamil paramilitary groups, including the 'Karuna' group that recently broke away from the LTTE, in its campaign, the Tigers say. The head of the LTTE's political wing in Batticaloa-Amparai, Mr. E. Kausalyan, said in May, "Karuna's rebellion has become routine explanation for the attacks on [the LTTE]. But these are being organized by the Sinhala military.


New York Based Committee to Protect Journalists News Alert 1 June 2004

Aiyathurai Nadesan, a veteran Tamil journalist, was shot and killed on Monday, May 31, by unidentified assailants in Batticaloa, a town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka and 135 miles (216 kilometers) from the capital, Colombo, according to international news reports and local journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is investigating whether the murder was related to Nadesan's journalistic work.

Nadesan, who worked with the national Tamil-language daily Virakesari for 20 years, was on his way to work Monday morning when he was gunned down. Local police told The Associated Press that gunmen ambushed the journalist near a Hindu temple. The assailants escaped from the scene, and no group has claimed responsibility for the killing. The police in Batticaloa have launched an investigation into the murder, according to news reports.

Nadesan was an award-winning journalist who used the pen name Nellai G. Nadesan. He also reported for the International Broadcast Group, a Tamil-language radio station that broadcasts from London.

Violence erupted in Sri Lanka's eastern region in recent weeks after the main Tamil rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), launched a military offensive against a breakaway faction headed by a soldier known as Colonel Karuna. Local journalists said that Nadesan supported the LTTE. The LTTE has accused the Sri Lankan army and members of the breakaway faction of Nadesan's murder, according to the pro-LTTE Internet news site Tamil.net.

Nadesan had been harassed and threatened before his death because he had criticized the government and security forces, according to CPJ research. On June 17, 2001, a Sri Lankan army officer summoned Nadesan for an interrogation and threatened the journalist with arrest unless he ceased reporting about the army.

Local journalist groups condemned the murder and called for a hartal, or national strike, for tomorrow, June 2.

After a 20-year-long civil war, Sri Lanka's government reached a cease-fire agreement with the separatist LTTE in February 2002. Although the current peace agreement remains fragile, the two sides are scheduled to resume talks in July.

"We are outraged by the murder of Aiyathurai Nadesan and urge authorities to find and punish those responsible for this crime," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.


Move to make SLA camp permanent sparks protest
July 2, 2003, 13:04 [TamilNet]


“The effort to establish the Sri Lanka army’s Kallady camp on a permanent basis goes against the grain of the Cease Fire Agreement”, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, Tamil National Alliance MP, told TamilNet, Wednesday, referring to recent moves by the military to acquire property and land in a suburb on the southern outskirts of the Batticaloa town. Quarters built in this suburb by the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) for government officials in Batticaloa have been occupied by troops since 1990.

The SLA recently wrote to the NHDA seeking a valuation of its quarters in Kallady for the purpose of taking these over permanently.

The Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DII) too has sought to acquire a building in the NHDA quarters (no. M-2). Mr. Pararajasingham said he had spoken to the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Mr. Austin Fernando, regarding the matter on Monday; but that Mr. Fernando had stated that he was unaware of the move by the SLA and the DII to acquire the NHDA quarters and land in Kallady.

“However, Defence Secretary told me to send him a formal letter setting out the issue in detail”, the MP said.

The NHDA built 23 houses on government land in the early eighties. Two of these were sold to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and one to the National Water Supply Board. The rest were for occupation by senior Sri Lankan government officials working in the district. In 1990, when the SLA expanded its position by the Kallady beach to establish a large camp, it took over 13 of the NHDA quarters under Emergency Regulations.

“Tamils here see the CFA between the Tigers and Colombo as the basis for bringing about permanent peace because it holds out the promise that all the public buildings and utilities in Batticaloa, such as the Municipal Council, Library, Forest Department, thoroughfares etc., would eventually be returned to their rightful owners for the good of the people. The CFA stands on the belief that this land would be freed of all unnecessary military occupation when an acceptable solution is found at the end of the peace process. But the move to make the SLA camp in Kallady permanent is seriously undermining the people’s positive attitude towards peace”, said Mr. Aiyathurai Nadesan, senior correspondent and political columnist for the Tamil daily Virakesari in Batticaloa.

The Kallady SLA camp lies spread along the beach for about one kilometre, occupying a large tract comprising state and private lands and properties.

The SLA moved into the area in 1982, taking over a Rural Development Training Centre under the emergency regulations to set up a minor post. The position was expanded and built into a large camp since 1990.

The Young Men’s Christian Association in Batticaloa says a training centre belonging to it is also inside the camp and that the army has made inquiries about acquiring it too.

A retired Sri Lanka army officer in Colombo who is familiar with the Kallady camp’s origins and importance said: “The place offers the closest and safest access to the sea for the troops in the Batticaloa town. The sea is obviously the supply route of the last resort there. The army in Batticaloa town cannot depend only on its Main Supply Route (MSR) from Polannaruwa (the A-15 Road) because it runs through a vast region held by the LTTE. For this same reason, the camp on the Kalkudah coast is also important strategically for army’s positions in Batticaloa north”.

Kalkudah, 32 kilometres north of Batticaloa, was one of the most thriving beach resorts in Sri Lanka before the war. The SLA now occupies the British period rest house and a long picturesque beach here.

“The LTTE has a division of regular troops backed by at least a dozen batteries of heavy mortars – and possibly artillery- concentrated in the northern part of the Batticaloa district, which is under their control. The army’s MSR to the district, which winds through this region, is therefore terribly fragile. Hence the SLA’s keenness to strengthen its position on the Kallady coast”, the retired officer pointed out.

(An SLA division has nine thousand troops but constant fighting and desertions have reduced many of its battle worthy divisions to 4-5 thousand. But the SLA says that the LTTE's divisions are full strength formations)

The Sri Lankan military’s Batticaloa brigade headquarters is located along the eastern coast of island of Puliyanthivu. The main part of Batticaloa’s town centre too is lies within this island. The east coast of Puliyanthivu is closest point on this island across the lagoon to the sea.

Until the British built one of the longest railway bridges in Sri Lanka to in the 1920’s to link the northern part of the town with the narrow stretch of land between the lagoon and the sea, the shortest distance from the Batticaloa Fort jetty across the water was Kallady.

Portuguese, Dutch and British armies conquered and controlled the countryside in Batticaloa by holding the landing at Kallady to ferry troops across the lagoon particularly during times of rebellion. Hence the Dutch had a small garrison there, apparently to hold the ferry point.

The people of Batticaloa, led by the Chieftain Arumaipperumal rose in rebellion against the British in 1803 and captured most of the district except the island of Puliyanthivu where the British troops had retreated to defend the fort. Three months later, the British, with large reinforcements under Captain Johnston, crushed the rebellion brutally. Arumaipperumal was captured and sent in chains to Colombo.

Control of the Fort in Puliyanthivu (Built by Portuguese in 1622) and a presence in Kallady is therefore considered strategic for dominating the Batticaloa district.

“The strategic concerns of the army are not good enough reason for taking over land and public property in the midst of a well populated and expanding suburb of Batticaloa town. And importantly, the army’s attitude does not seem to be much different from that of the colonial rulers”, said Mr. Nadesan.


From: Free Media Movement
237/22, Wijeya Kumaratunga Mawatha
Colombo 05

July 2001

To: Anura Priyadarshana Yapa
Minister for Information and Media
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Dear Minister,

We would like to bring your attention to following incidents that has happened in Batticaloa recently which have a direct bearing on freedom of expression and journalist's right to fulfill their duty without fear and obstructions. We have being informed of these incidents by the Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance.

The Commanding Officer of the 23-3 Battalion in Batticaloa has warned and threatened reporter Aiyathurai Nadesan on July 17, 2001.

Mr. Nadesan has been serving as a journalist for many years in Batticaloa.

Col. Manawaduge has summoned Mr. Nadesan to his office and alleged that the latter writes only anti-government and anti-military news and articles and had warned him that if he continues in this fashion, action would be taken against him under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Mr. Nadesan was warned at the army camp office of how the JVPers in this country were shot dead for posting anti-government posters. The military photographers photographed him in many angles without his permission. He has complained about whole incident which has threatened his life.

The Government announced recently that the censorship related to military news had been lifted and the restrictions imposed on journalist in visiting unlearned areas ( meaning areas under the LTTE) removed, and that media personal could go freely to these areas and gather news. But even after this announcement was made Mr Nadesan who lives and works in war zone has been threatened in this fashion. This astonishes us.

Mr. Nadesan is the vice-president of Tamil Media alliance and it is worth mentioning at this time that the Editors' Guild of Sri Lanka presented him an award as a best journalist of last year. FMM would like to point out that there is now a fear whether the incident would lead to an armed retaliation similar to the killing of journalist Nimalarajan Mailvaganam last year in the precincts of the high-security zone in the Jaffna peninsula.

Simultaneously, Mr. S M Gopalratnam editor and Mr. K.Rushankan sub editor of Thinakathir, the only Thamil daily of east Sri Lanka were summoned to the camp a few days ago by the same army officer and warned in the same fashion. They were accused of supporting the Tigers Both of them are members of the Eastern Journalists Association. We wish to bring this too to your notice.

We demand that an immediate inquiry is held regarding this gross violation of freedom of expression of three Tamil language journalist from eastern Sri Lanka. At the same time we request you to inform the Commanding Officer of the 23-3 battalion in Batticaloa to respect the journalists rights to gather and disseminate information without any restrictions as there is no censorship is in force at present.

FMM takes this opportunity to express its strong protest at threatening behavior of the concerned military officer and to reaffirmed our solidarity with of all media personal working in war zone under extremely difficult conditions in fulfilling their duty to the follow citizens.

Sincerely yours,
Sunanda Deshapriya
Convenor
Waruna Karunathilaka
Secretary
24.07.2001

Copies to:
1. Army commander
2. Director of Information
3. International freedom of expression organizations
4 Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance

Please send appleas to;
Mr. Anura Priyadarshana yapa
Minster for Information and Media
Republic Sq. Sri Baron Jayathilaka Mawatha, Colombo 01
Fax+ 94 1 323730

Col. Manawaduge,
Commanding Officer of the 23-3 battalion in Batticaloa , Batticoloa, Sri Lanka

 

 

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