Director-General condemns bombing of rebel radio station in northern Sri Lanka
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura has condemned the air strike on the Voice of Tigers radio station that killed five of the station's staff. A total of more than ten people are reported to have been killed in the attack.
"I condemn the bombing of the Voice of Tigers radio station," the Director-General declared, "regardless of the content of the broadcasts aired by the Voice of Tigers, there can be no excuse for military strikes on civilian media. Such action contravenes the Geneva Convention which requires the military to treat media workers as civilians. Killing media personnel is not going to help reconciliation and I urge the authorities to ensure respect for the basic human right of freedom of expression."
Sri Lankan army planes struck the radio station near Kilinochchi in the north of the country on the afternoon of 27 November. Voice of Tigers is the radio station of the Tamil Tiger rebels. Ten civilians are said to have been injured in the attack. There are conflicting reports about the total number of casualties.
UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to "further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations." To realize this purpose the Organization is required to "collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image..."
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