Fight with people with guns, not those with pens – Editor Vithiyatharan

by Franklin R. Satyapalan

The Editor of the Uthayan and Sudar-Oli newspapers, N. Vithiyatharan, who was released from detention last week, said that he had sought a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“As the editor of two national newspapers, I want to explain my position and also obtain the views of the President”, he told The Sunday Island yesterday.

Vithyatharan was released from detention last Friday after the Fort Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya ruled out there was no evidence to connect him to the LTTE air attack on the Sri Lanka Air Force Headquarters in Colombo in February, 2009.

He said that by detaining him the government had prevented him from highlighting the grievances of displaced Tamil civilians in the Vanni internationally.

“As a leader of Colombo Tamils, I was kept locked up during the campaigning for the Western PC poll and released a day before the election”, he said.

“A couple of weeks before I was arrested, when I met the President in the company of other Editors, he (President) stated that journalist should not fear to carry out their duties. “That was precisely what I did, but I was deeply hurt by the statements of some government officials who claimed I was a terrorist”.

“During the two months I was under detention I was questioned about my telephone calls, bank accounts, my wife’s bank accounts and trips abroad. They also got Interpol to clarify matters”, he said.

“They did not think about my family, my future or the slur on my reputation as an Editor of two national dailies”.

“I have practiced journalism for over 30 years and been based in Jaffna. In 1995, when the military re-captured Jaffna, the Security Forces used my good offices to help restore civil administration”, Vithiyatharan claimed.

“Calling me a terrorist is absurd”, he pointed out. “I wish to tell the people of the South that when you fight you should fight with people with a gun and not with people with a pen. We are the very people who can reflect the true aspirations of the Tamils”.

“My newspaper Uthayan has been around for over two and a half decades. Without arresting and questioning me, the people in the South should give more weight to the views of Tamil national dailies”.

“As a prominent Tamil organ that always reflected the views and Tamil aspirations, I appeal to my Southern media brethren to stop tarring all Tamil journalists as ‘terrorists’. Instead, they should try to understand the views and aspirations of the Tamil people these scribes reflect”, he said.

“I will never run away from my country. I have all the right to remain and work under the legal system for justice for Tamils.”

He said his was justice delayed and not justice denied. “I wish to place on record that other than the first two hours of my abduction, from the time I was taken for questioning to the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) I was treated in the most gentlemanly manner”.

“I have no complaints against the Police or the CCD and I would take the occasion to thank the Director of the CCD SSP Anura Senanayake and his officials, all those media personnel and organizations, human rights activists, members of civil society, politiciana and diplomats who spoke up for my innocence and release”, Vithiyatharan noted.

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