Feature Article

Undeclared censorship imposed on books, magazines reaching Jaffna by post

[TamilNet, Friday, 18 August 2017, 23:22 GMT]
The occupying state of genocidal Sri Lanka has imposed an undeclared censorship on printed magazines, weeklies and books that are being posted from outside the island to addresses in Jaffna. The latest censorship is being practiced by the Customs section, which is attached to the SL Postal Department in Jaffna, informed postal department workers told TamilNet on Friday. Sinhala Custom officials are removing printed material in letters or parcels that carry any photo or image related to the Tamil struggle in the past. Even a magazine that carried an article about an asylum case of an Eezham Tamil in UK was removed from the post and the recipient was warned to instruct the sender not to post anything related to Tamil nationalism. There are also reports that journalists entering North-East are being subjected to strict surveillance.

The latest undeclared censorship, imposed in Jaffna, has come after increased pressure on Tamil media and journalists by the foreign powers that have been backing the Colombo-centric system. The censorship has also come as a response to the uprising of the grassroots that successfully challenged the attempts to unseat Justice C.V. Wigneswaran as the chief minister of NPC, political observers in Jaffna said.

Tamil officials at the customs section of the SL Postal Department in Jaffna have been instructed by Colombo to check the material reaching the peninsula by opening the letters and parcels suspected of carrying printed magazines, weeklies or books and remove the contents there are articles related to ‘Tamil nationalism’, according to informed postal department officials.

Such censorship was also carried out in the past before the present regime of Maithiripala and Wickramasighe. SL military intelligence was directly responsible for such censorship in the past.

A censorship on selected media was practiced in the past during the regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa. TamilNet was the first Internet-based website to be blocked. Later, many other websites were blocked.

BBC’s Tamil service was also subjected to periods of censorship despite having relaying agreements with the SLBC.

Journalists traveling from abroad into North and East had to seek permission from SL Military. Many journalists were blocked from traveling into Vanni and Jaffna. Television channels from Tamil Nadu that had broadcast documentaries on war-crimes and that talked about Tamil genocide were taken off the air or cable.

After the regime change, a PR campaign was waged both inside and outside the island claiming that the new regime had ensured freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Some openly known restrictions, including the internet censorship on TamilNet, were removed only after reports challenged the claim.

A Tamil National Alliance party, TELO, is still facing a legal case for having relayed Makkka’l Tholaik-kaadchi (Makkal TV) from Tamil Nadu through their commercial cable service. Makka’l TV had carried documentaries on Tamil genocide and had broadcast translated versions of acclaimed documentaries on war crimes.

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