Sri Lankan military forces journalists out of Jaffna

COLOMBO, Oct 8, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s military has forced three people making a documentary about the decades-long Tamil separatist conflict to leave the embattled northern Jaffna peninsula, a media rights group said Monday. The team from Quick Silver Media was forced to leave last week despite having prior permission from defence authorities in the capital to film and conduct interviews in Jaffna, Free Media Movement said in a statement.

The journalists, who were making the documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 television, had been in Jaffna for about one day before they were asked to leave for Colombo.

They were also not allowed to work independently of the military, the group said.

“Jaffna has been under Sri Lanka government and military rule for nearly 12 years now,” the FMM said.

“If it cannot allow independent reporting from Jaffna even after 12 years of its rule, that shows there is real problem that needs to be addressed.”

It was not clear why the crew — two Britons and a local — were made to leave, but the private Daily Mirror newspaper quoted a military official as saying they were sent back for their own safety.

Sri Lankan authorities have severely curtailed journalists’ access to