The workshop organized by TISL for Tamil media print and electronic journalists was halted midway for the second time running in Negombo. The training held at Goldie Sands hotel in Negambo was forcibly brought to an abrupt halt on Saturday evening after the venue was encircled by protesters who called for the program to be discontinued immediately. A few weeks earlier when the same training was held in Girithale, Polonnaruwa, the management of the Deer Park hotel did not allow the training to continue on the second day saying that the Defence Ministry had ordered them to stop the training.
In Negaobo too it was visible that the protesters were backed by a powerful arm as they came organised with posters and placards. They had photographs of TISL staff members and trainers. The protest was organized by a hitherto unknown outfit called ‘Jathiya Surekeeme Sansadaya’. The workshop which commenced on Friday 6th June was scheduled to end on Sunday.
Approximately 20 journalists were selected for the program which commenced with the workshop in Girihale late last month. It was continued in Negombo on Friday, with a participation of 14 Tamil journalists. Most of them had travelled from Jaffna. But the workshop had to be once again stopped because of the protest outside the hotel.
The protesters numbering 100 to 150 threatened the TISL staff to immediate call off of the workshop. Though the police did not allow the protestors to enter in to the training area they did not take any action to disperse the crowd who acted unlawfully. This proved beyond doubt the protestors were backed by powerful hand.
TISL had no option but to immediately halt the workshop due to failure on the part of the police to provide protection at the hotel in Negombo. After the participants were transported to Colombo and accommodated in the Galadari Hotel, TISL had to face another turn of events. Within a few minutes after the participants checked in the management of the hotel ordered them to leave the premises at once. Although the representatives of the TISL resisted this move, the hotel management was firm on their decision. Participants and the TISL members observed civil clothed military personnel roaming around the lobby area. Others had spotted a few more outside the hotel too.
This made TISL members to leave the hotel with the Tamil medium journalists fearing the arrest of some of the participants from Jaffna.