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STUDENT JOURNALIST GUNNED DOWN IN FRONT OF HOME

A student journalist was gunned down in front of his home in Jaffna, report the Free Media Movement (FMM) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

Nilakshan Sahapavan, a student journalist at Jaffna University's Media Resource Training Centre (MRTC), established by UNESCO, was shot on 1 August by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Kokuvil, Jaffna, in the middle of the night. He later died in hospital from his injuries.

Kokuvil, just three miles away from Jaffna city, is heavily guarded by the Sri Lankan military. The shooting took place during curfew hours, which RSF says "raises questions about the possible complicity of the security forces."

RSF says Sahapavan was one of the editors of "Chaa'laram", a magazine linked to the Federation of Jaffna District Students that is known for supporting Tamil nationalism. Sahapavan attended an FMM seminar in Colombo with fellow MRTC students just a week before his death to discuss the situation of journalists in Jaffna. TamilNet reports that he had also recently commemorated the second anniversary of the death of journalist Dharmeratnam Sivaram, a prominent Tamil journalist who was assassinated for his sympathetic views of the Tamil Tigers.

According to FMM, not a single investigation into a murdered journalist has been carried out to completion by Sri Lanka's government. Sahapavan is the eighth media worker killed in Jaffna since May 2006.

The International Press Freedom Mission, which includes IFEX members the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Press Institute (IPI) and RSF, visited Sri Lanka in June 2007 and named Jaffna one of the worst places to be a journalist.

Visit these links:
- FMM: http://tinyurl.com/23o5y3
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23134
- IFJ: http://ifj.org/default.asp?Index=5175&Language=EN
- International Press Freedom Mission June report: http://tinyurl.com/2fdbhg
- TamilNet: http://tinyurl.com/36kptj
(7 August 2007)

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