Mannar mass grave excavation Media and NGOs banned, why?

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

Police have obtained a written Order from the Mannar Magistrate not to permit the Media and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), that are working closely on the missing and enforced disappearances issue, to visit the Mannar mass grave site to collect information or report on it.

Police have claimed that several Media outlets have misinterpreted the information given to them by the officials at the burial site.

Police have urged the Media and NGOs to obtain permission from the Mannar Magistrate through the Magistrate’s Court Registrar when seeking to visit the site.

Ceylon Today learns this move is to prohibit journalists and NGOs from visiting the site, due to the Media allegedly misinforming the public on the findings at the mass grave.

NGOs that are closely monitoring the findings are perturbed over the prohibition, claiming that it is important for them to watch over the findings since the mission of excavating is funded by the Office of the Missing Persons (OMPs) which is an independent body helping the victims’ families.

The Magistrate’s Court Registrar said the Media and others could make a written request and then he would check with the Magistrate whether he could give permission or not.

Although there was a briefing given to the Media and NGOs on the findings on a daily basis till 7 August, but now it has since been halted.

Some rights activists working closely with the mass grave site officials are planning to request the relevant officials to give them a time and date to obtain an update on the findings.

On 7 August, Archaeologist, Professor Raj Somadeva, who is at the site in Mannar, told Ceylon Today that they have found 71 human skeletal remains and would continue to do their work at the burial site for the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, Police sources said that an international media outlet had created a situation which had led to the embargo.