TamilNet

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TamilNet
TamilNet (logo).png
Web address www.tamilnet.com
Slogan "Reporting to the world on Tamil Affairs"
Type of site
Online Newspaper
Launched 1997
Current status Active

TamilNet is a news website that provides news and feature articles on current affairs in Sri Lanka, specifically related to the erstwhile Sri Lankan Civil War. The website was formed by members of the Sri Lankan Tamil community residing in the United States and publishes articles in English,[1] German and French.

It is a Tamil nationalist and is described as a pro rebel LTTE website.[2]It is a news site that is relied upon by journalists, civil society and the diplomatic community both within Sri Lanka and globally to seek out the LTTE leadership’s perspective on the civil conflict. Tamilnet and non-governmental organizations such as Free Media Movement (FMM), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and ARTICLE 19 confirm that the website is currently banned in Sri Lanka.[3][4]

Operations[edit]

Tamilnet was started by Muthuthamby Sreetharan,[5] a graduate of Hartley College and native of Karaveddy, Jaffna and Jeyachandran Kopinath. Kopinath functions as the main editor from Norway.[6] Sreetharan currently resides in Bethesda, Maryland.[7]

TamilNet articles are written in simple and informative style of reporting. This is in the neutral-authoritative tone of most Western wire news services.[1]

TamilNet reporters are on the ground mostly in the provincial villages of the North and East of Sri Lanka, where reporters are supplied with digital equipment. Reports are generated in Tamil and emailed to bilingual translators and editors in United States, Europe, Australia or to Colombo, Sri Lanka. This network of on the ground reporters has allowed TamilNet to circumvent Sri Lankan government's censorship laws.[1]

Perceptions[edit]

Reuters, Associated Press, BBC News, Agence France Presse, Xinhua and Al Jazeera English all refer to TamilNet as "the pro-LTTE website".[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Mark Whitaker, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina and research collaborator of former senior TamilNet editor Taraki Sivaram, argues that TamilNet merely shares the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist ideology of the LTTE and is not an arm of the organization. For instance, he says TamilNet had once fired a sub-editor who had become an activist for the LTTE. He also says TamilNet has faced complaints and "extreme displeasure" from both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE. Whitaker also says the LTTE has been deeply unhappy of "undue" coverage given on TamilNet to criticism of the organization by international human rights organizations. However, Whitaker believes much of the criticism directed at TamilNet by the LTTE is off public view, since the LTTE considers such moves as weakening Tamil nationalism.[1]

According to ARTICLE 19, a global human rights organization with a specific mandate and focus on the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide, the news website although some claim it has an LTTE bias, it has over its ten-year life span, earned a reputation for providing alternative news and opinions with a particular focus on the North and East of the country, operating under the banner of “Reporting to the World on Tamil Affairs”. It is relied upon as a credible news source by journalists, civil society and the diplomatic community both within Sri Lanka and globally. Over the years, the site has endured various threats and attacks, including the gunning down in April 2005 of editor, Sivaram Dharmaratnam.[4]

Criticism and Counter-Criticism[edit]

Experts in the field argue TamilNet's accuracy of its reporting has "rarely been successfully challenged that such charges ring hollow". According to V. Sambandan, Sri Lanka Special Correspondent for the prominent Indian English Daily The Hindu, "facts and figures are double sourced, checked and are considered 100% credible".[1]

However a Sri Lanka analyst for the prominent Indian English daily The Hindu, states "TamilNet (www.tamilnet.com) is the unofficial mouthpiece of the Tigers in English. It is a kind of news agency chronicling the conflict as perceived by the LTTE. The site is a `must hit' for any serious Sri Lanka watcher. A senior official in the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat told Frontline, "My first port of call on the internet is TamilNet. Though it is brazenly pro-Tigers, it is a good guide to know the mind of the Tiger leadership tucked away in the safe havens of the Wanni jungles.".[14]


Threats and murders[edit]

It has been alleged that members associated with various Sri Lankan political parties have threatened reporters of TamilNet with arrest for "treason", and once hinted, that "uncontrolled extremists might be inspired to perform some extra-judicial killing".Extra Judicial killing[›][1] (See additional information here)

In 2004, Ramasamy Thurairatnam, a correspondent for the Lakehouse press group and the TamilNet.com news website, claimed that his life was in danger because a local warlord's supporters have formed death squads whose job is to eliminate those who don't support their point of view in the civil conflict. Due to the same threats the BBC’s Tamil and Sinhalese services have stopped broadcasting reports from their correspondents in eastern Sri Lanka.[15]

Body of Taraki Sivaram was found behind the Parliament of Sri Lanka's high security zone. Source:TamilNet.com

Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, a Jaffna based reporter for the BBC,[16] who also filed news reports for TamilNet[17] was shot and killed in 2000. The accused who is an ex-member of Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EDPD) headed by cabinet minister Douglas Devananda, a coalition member of many ruling alliances, has been absconding since his bailout.[18]

In 2005, TamilNet's editor Taraki Sivaram, was kidnapped and then shot and killed in Colombo by unknown gunmen. His body was found near the Sri Lankan parliament inside the high security zone.[19] Currently a former member of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), a minor political organization and a known paramilitary group[20] has been accused in the murder.[21][22]

The LTTE has accused the government of complicity in his murder,[23] while the government has denied any responsibility. To the accusation that self styled Colonel Karuna, a government aligned[24][25] regional political party leader and a former LTTE member was personally involved in the murder of Taraki Sivaram, Karuna has categorically denied it.[26][27]

Ban in Sri Lanka[edit]

According to Free Media Movement (FMM), a media rights watchdog from Sri Lanka, on June 19, 2007, on the orders of the Sri Lankan Government, all major Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Sri Lanka, blocked users from being able to access the TamilNet website.[28] The FMM said that it is "deeply disturbed" with the news and had the following to say about the ban:

"The ban on Tamilnet is the first instance of what the FMM believes may soon be a slippery slope of web & Internet censorship in Sri Lanka. It is also a regrettable yet revealing extension of this Government’s threats against and coercion of print and electronic media in Sri Lanka since assuming office in late 2005.... The FMM stresses that the danger of censoring the web & Internet is that it gives a Government and State agencies with no demonstrable track record of protecting & strengthening human rights and media freedom flimsy grounds to violate privacy, curtail the free flow of information and restrict freedom of expression"[28]

When questioned by reporters, Government Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said he was not aware of the shutdown but, "We are looking for hackers to disable the Tamilnet but could not find anyone yet."[29][30] to which FMM responded by saying that it was Cyber terrorism by a government.[31]

The Human Rights group Article 19 in a press release on June 20, 2007, said the following regarding the ban on TamilNet: "Until now, control measures have largely been directed at local media. Applying these measures to the Internet represents a serious escalation which threatens to cut off an important source of independent and alternative news. This not only threatens press freedom but also undermines efforts to address the conflict."[4]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Whitaker, Mark (2006-08-31). "Tamilnet.com: Some Reflections on Popular Anthropology, Nationalism, and the Internet" (PDF). Anthropological Quarterly. Retrieved 2006-10-19. 
  2. ^ "Sri Lanka profile". BBC News. 2012-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Sri Lanka military in jungle clash". Al Jazeera. 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  4. ^ a b c "Sri Lanka: News Agency website blocked on Attack on Press Freedom" (PDF). ARTICLE 19. 2006-08-31. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  5. ^ "LTTE Cabal opposes 'KP' as leader of re-structured Tigers". Lanka e News. 2003-07-17. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  6. ^ "Kopiert fra ©sa 12.4.2011 - http://www.aftenbladet.no/utenriks/Tamilsk-nyhetsbyraa-ledes-fra-Norge-1959911.html Tamilsk nyhetsbyrå ledes fra Norge". Aftenbladet. 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  7. ^ "Muthuthamby Sreetharan". Hartley College. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  8. ^ Gardner, Simon (2006-08-31). "Tamil Tigers warn Sri Lanka offensive could end truce". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  9. ^ "Sri Lanka rebels 'call ceasefire'". BBC News. 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  10. ^ "Sri Lankan military says 11 soldiers killed in fierce battle with rebels in the north". Associated Press. 2006-09-08. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  11. ^ "Peace hopes rise as Tigers ‘agree’ to talk". AFP. 2006-09-28. Retrieved 2006-10-07. 
  12. ^ "Sri Lanka Air Force bombs rebel positions in north". Xinhua. 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2006-10-07. 
  13. ^ "LTTE to regroup as political body". Al Jazeera English. 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-08-28. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/06/20096173150357259.html
  14. ^ http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/thscrip/print.pl?file=20070615004904600.htm&date=fl2411/&prd=fline&
  15. ^ Nine recommendations for improving the state of press freedom (July 19, 2004)
  16. ^ CPJ Report Mylvaganam Nimalarajan, free-lancer killed (December 1, 2000)
  17. ^ "Sri Lanka’s vernacular press and the peace process" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-11-27. 
  18. ^ Ex EPDP confesses to the killing TamilNet report (July 04, 2002)
  19. ^ Frontline report End of a dissenter (May 21, 2005)
  20. ^ Amnesty International report ASA 37/010/2001(2001)
  21. ^ "TamilNet editor's murder still unpunished after one year". International Federation of Journalists. 2005-04-28. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  22. ^ Sivaram killing: AG indicts PLOTE leader’s driver(July 21, 2006)
  23. ^ "LTTE accuses SLA Intelligence, para-militaries for Sivaram's murder". TamilNet. 2005-04-30. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  24. ^ SLMM June Report 2006
  25. ^ Child Soldiers: Government Failing to Investigate or Stop Karuna Group Human Rights Watch (March 29, 2007)
  26. ^ Did Karuna Personally kill "Taraki" Sivaram? 2006
  27. ^ Karuna's response to accusations about Taraki murder 2007
  28. ^ a b "Clamping down on the Internet: The ban on Tamilnet in Sri Lanka". FMM. 2007-06-20. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  29. ^ "Tamilnet blocked in Sri Lanka". BBC. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  30. ^ "Popular website shut down". Japan Today. 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  31. ^ "Colombo admits to cyber terrorism- FMM". Tamilnet. 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  32. ^ Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: Its Origins and Development in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, By Professor A. Jeyaratnam Wilson Publisher: University of British Columbia Press (March 2000) (ISBN 1-85065-338-0)
  33. ^ APWLD/FA Statement on extrajudicial killing in Sri Lanka, Philippines and Chechnya at the UN Human Rights Council Asia Pacific forum on Women, Law and Development 2006

Further reading[edit]

  • Nurturing a Nation on the Net: The Case of Tamil Eelam, by Maya Ranganathan, NATIONALISM AND ETHNIC POLITICS; 2002, VOL 8; PART 2, pages 51–66. ISSN; 1353-7113
  • Nurturing Eelam on the net: the transmission of nationalist ideologies through Sri Lankan Tamil websites, by Maya Ranganathan, Clayton, Vic.: Monash Asia Institute, 2006 See infor here
  • "Potential of the Net to Construct and Convey Ethnic and National Identities: Comparison of the Use in the Sri Lankan Tamil and Kashmir Situations", by Maya Ranganathan, Asian Ethnicity: Taylor & Francis Group, 2004
  • Learning Politics from Sivaram, The Life and Death of a Revolutionary Tamil Journalist in Sri Lanka, by Mark P. Whitaker Publisher: Pluto Press (UK) 2007 (ISBN 0-7453-2353-7)
  • "Internet and media freedom: Media censorship in Sri Lanka and the emergence of Web-based rebel media" by Kasun Ubayasiri. AsiaPacific MediaEducator, Issue 12/13, December 2002 See info here
  • "A virtual Eelam: Democracy, Internet and Sri Lanka’s Tamil struggle" by Kasun Ubayasiri in Asian Cyberactivism: freedom of expression & media censorship by Steven Gann, James Gomez and Uwe Johannen See info here (ISBN 0-9749177-5-3)

External links[edit]