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    Sri Lanka Makes Journalism an Act of Terrorism

    by Clothilde Le Coz
    December 15, 2009
    Image of J.S. Tissainayagam via Mizozo.com

    i-d64ace474c476a71312eb23050bc0676-tissa_002.jpg
    J.S. Tissainayagam

    As of December 10, J.S. Tissainayagam, a respected Tamil journalist and editor, had served the first 100 days of a 20-year sentence in a Sri Lankan jail. In his World Press Freedom Day statement, President Obama cited Tissainayagam as an “emblematic example” of a journalist who was being persecuted. Amnesty International also named Tissainayagam a prisoner of conscience, and held a vigil for him in the U.K. in early September.

    Yet the hopes for Tissainayagam’s release grow dimmer by the day. His case is attracting attention — and outcry — because it is the first known instance in the democratic world of a journalist being charged under the provisions of an anti-terror law.

    It seems that his only act of terrorism was his writing -- a dangerous precedent."

    Writing as an Act of Terrorism

    J.S. Tissainayagam wrote for the North Eastern Monthly Magazine and the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka, and is the founder of the website Outreachsl.com. He was arrested on March 7, 2008 and held without charges for six months. On August 25, 2008, he was indicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on three counts.

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    The Judicial process lasted a further 12 months and on August 31, 2009, Tissainayagam was found guilty on all three counts. He was sentenced to 20 years of “rigorous imprisonment.” The National Post of Canada wrote an editorial defending Tissainayagam and calling for his release. This is how the Post explained the Sri Lankan government’s case against him:

    While he is accused of having taken money from the outlawed (and brutal) Tamil Tigers to operate a website providing the Tamil version of facts about the civil war, Mr. Tissainayagam’s main crime seems to have been writing two articles in the now-defunct Northeastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007 criticizing the Sri Lankan persecution of the Tamils, who were seeking an independent homeland in the north-east corner of the island nation.

    Mr. Tissainayagam criticized wartime tactics employed by Sri Lankan leaders, including the alleged withholding of food, medicine and other essential items from Tamil areas as a way to strike back at the Tigers. He also complained that the Sri Lankan army was conducting extrajudicial executions — murdering civilian Tamils as a warning to the Tigers that Colombo was not to be messed with and a caution to ordinary Tamils not to abet the Tigers.

    None of the charges stated that Tissainayagam received funds from a terrorist organization, nor was he accused of funding terrorist organizations. Neither his coerced confession nor the evidence presented in court revealed that he had received funds from the Tamil Tigers. Therefore, it seems that his only act of terrorism was his writing — a dangerous precedent.

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    Lack of Press Freedom in Sri Lanka

    Inside of Sri Lanka, state media are providing biased accounts of the situation. This isn’t surprising, as the president controls the state media and uses them to campaign against the opposition. This is putting other Sri Lankan journalists in danger.

    During the opposition United National Party’s convention in Colombo on December 5, seven journalists working for state TV stations Rupavahini and ITN were slightly injured and their equipment was damaged when they were manhandled outside the location of the meeting. UNP leader Ravi Karunanayake said his party was not involved in the violence, and confirmed that the journalists had not been invited to the meeting. It is still not known who was responsible for this act. Meanwhile, in November, the three main Tamil dailies in Jaffna received threatening letters accusing them of playing into the hands of “terrorists.”

    On the eve of the commemoration of International Human Rights Day on December 10, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “the Obama Administration is dedicated to upholding the tenets of the Universal Declaration at home and championing them abroad through a policy of principled engagement.” This policy must be followed in Sri Lanka.

    In Sri Lanka, there will be no post-war reconciliation if a Tamil intellectual such as Tissainayagam can be found guilty of such baseless charges. Tamil journalists, human rights activists, politicians and other groups will naturally feel at risk if they too can be jailed at any time for 20 years. Clearly, the use of the anti-terrorist act in this instance is an attempt to intimidate government critics.

    The United States must include Tissainayagam’s release as a benchmark for the restoration of the rule of law in Sri Lanka. Without press freedom and freedom of expression, the country will never be united, peaceful and on the right track for economic development and good governance.

    Another Journalist in Danger

    Tissainayagam is far from the only journalist suffering in Sri Lanka. Below is a video interview with Frederica Jansz, the new editor-in-chief and news editor of the independent Sri Lankan weekly, The Sunday Leader. She received death threats 10 months after Lasantha Wickrematunge, her predecessor, was murdered. No real investigation has been made regarding his case:

    Clothilde Le Coz has been working for Reporters Without Borders in Paris since 2007. She is now the Washington director for this organization, helping to promote press freedom and free speech around the world. In Paris, she was in charge of the Internet Freedom desk and worked especially on China, Iran, Egypt and Thailand. During the time she spent in Paris, she was also updating the “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyberdissidents,” published in 2005. Her role is now to get the message out for readers and politicians to be aware of the constant threat journalists are submitted to in many countries.

    Tagged: freedom of speech freedom of the press press feedom sri lanka tamil terrorism
    • Tissanayagam has been jailed not for reporting, but taking part in terrorist activities with the LTTE, the world’s most ruthless terror outfit which killed 70000 innocent civilians in buildings, public transport vehicles, religious places, railway stations etc etc. He can appeal his case. President Obama has been misinformed by the LTTE propaganda machine. There are many other LTTE supporters who have been jailed in the USA. Please note that.

    • Muthumaran

      It is appalling that in this time and age, this is happening in a country of majority Buddhists run by US/American citizens or green card holders, who have been involved in wiping out the minority Hindu Tamils with the silent support and approval of countries such as India(Hindus), US(Captialists), China(Communists), and Libya(Terrorists).

      So, why are they trying to wipe out the minority Tamil race in their own country? because they want self determination and want a separate country of their own, so they can escape from the oppressing majority Sinhalese Buddhists. Even the PBS, whom I support, does not cover the story.

      It is just a matter of time, before the “Human Genocide” of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka comes to light and those perpetrators punished. Mark my words loud and clear.

    • Gordon Richens

      That you would call the lackey of an internationally-recognized terrorist group a “respected Tamil journalist and editor” is a fitting commentary on standards of journalism that would make Walter Duranty gag.

      Your editorial fails to mention that Tissainayagam portrayed the Oxford-educated Tamil politician Lakshman Kadirgamar as a traitor, who was Sri Lanka’s foreign minister at the time of his murder by the LTTE in 2005. (“De Constructing Lakshman Kadirgamar” http://www.tamilnation.org/tamileelam/democracy/050901kadirgamar.htm)

      “Therefore, it seems that his only act of terrorism was his writing — a dangerous precedent.” Even a cursory scan of the Sri Lankan media will reveal an abundance of articles critical of the Rajapaksa government.

      Do you suppose the death of Prabhakaran and the routing of the LTTE has had any effect on the survival of Sri Lankan journalists?

    • Gordon Richens

      “Even the PBS, whom I support, does not cover the story.”
      Nor did PBS cover the LTTE forcing 100,000 Muslims out of areas under its control so that an illusion of a northern Tamil homeland could be maintained. Only after the defeat of the LTTE are these Muslims returning to the homes from which they were literally driven overnight some 20 years ago.

    • s.makeswaran

      sir,
      he was convicted according the rule of law of the land . you must understand according the rule of American Law some afgan citizens and other can be kidnapped tortured and confined in the name of national security and we all agreed we didnt say being a person , may be terrorist in america .
      just shut up and take care of your own problem not to mess with srilanka or as they say DONT MESS WITH TEXAS either .

    • j.s. tissainayagam is a supporter of our murderers . he collected funds and info for terrorists. evidence in the form of phone records and bank records prove that . why do you deny these facts ?

      your deliberate misrepresentation on this alone prove you are worst kind of racists.

      are we supposed to obey you and offer our necks to murderers and their helpers ?
      are we to offer our children to be maimed by them?

      you want us to obey usa, obama and clinton. why ? bc they kill innocents by the hundreds ( (including journalists) using uavs?

      why this double standard hypocrisy ? why this wanton disregard to our rights ?

      bc ppl like you are born racists ! you want to rule us and deny us our rights

      shame on disgusting racist at pbs !

    • dr shander

      This fascist regime, the govt of Sri lanka mascarades as a democracy, but is led by self confessed war criminals. Gotabaya,FM, admits he ordered surrendering soldiers and civlians shot in cold blood. Mowed down waving white flags. This regime cornered 300,000 civilians and mercelessly shot heavy artillary into the congested civilain area, killing over 100,000 civilians in 2009. The international community is mute, gagged by China and India. If this was Europe, do you think there would be silence? No. Democracy has not existed for the Tamils for 60 years. and no there is no sembelance of free speech for anyone in Sri Lanka. Another ruthless regime, killing its own civilians, in league with Burma, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussien. It has been labeled the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. WHY? because the Govt of Sri lanka wants to keep thier atrocities buried. They will never be successful. we will keep spreading the truth. There is ample evidence if you have eyes to look. There will be a free Tamil homeland and justice. Free .js. tissainayagam. a brave voice of truth

    • Mal

      This is not surprising for a terror-state like Srilanka to suppress democracy in its roots ! What surprises me is the silence of western nations and media against this outrage.

    • Ramesh

      PBS, Why cry now when you and western media willfully ignore the underlying Sinhala racism? Tissa is only a small symptom of this well entrenched sinhala racism whereas the slow genocide of tamils of past 60 years has been totally blacked out. As long as the apparently independent media (of PBS type) as well as HR organizations remain themselves tied to the larger canvass of western capitalists’ interests in lanka then these cries sound highly hypocritical

    • rama subbu

      no need to have any mercy towards tamils. they are all terrorists. Tissanayaham is one of them. They want to carve sri lanka. we can let that happen. we will block it at any cost. it does not matter if we lose our peace in the process. We have been opposing any single move tamils to have self determination and self rule. We will rule them. It was our effort to miliarize the north and east and keep the people in camps. basically we have two types of camps. once for the army and one for the people. it is our solution to the terrorism. when we execute ltte barbarians someone got the video. but, it does not chnage our game plan. we will do the same thing to keep sarath fonseka. we will get him to court and make sure he never comes back. it is our country and this is how we rule. if any nation share this value, do business with us, we know every one wants a piece of pie in any country…so we have china india usa and EU…we will handle them. it does not matter our people are grossl oppressed. but the befactors know this is a game, play by the rules. tissanayaham, kadikamar, prabaharan, sarath fonseka…all the same. the ltte animal karuna is slfp vice president. we dont have any principles. we know what we want and how to get it. our partner countries know this very well. it is called democracy and internation reletionship. ban Ki Moon knows this more than any one and more over the

    • Vino Gamage

      Tissainayagam always condemned the violence of LTTE. The government was okay with it. Once he started to criticise the government for its atrocities in the East bombing and displacing hundreds of thousands of Tamils and preventing aid agencies help them, the government could not stand it. It had to charge him as a ”terrorist”. The government policy has always been ”either you are with us or with the LTTE.” There are no gray areas for this government.
      The charges against Tissainayagam are made not according to the Sri Lankan criminal law but according to the ”terrorism law” which is contrary to the International Law.

    • SalTheCat

      Where else on planet Earth would a journalist get a 20 year prison term for writing? There is a murderous regime out there- even worse than Saddam Hussain that is run by US citizens. The US continues to play footsie with this regime- compromising ethics and human rights with its strategic ambitions.

      We stand behind you Tissai. We salute your fearlessness and integrity to write what is right in Sri Lanka.

    • SalTheCat

      Where else on planet Earth would a journalist get a 20 year prison term for writing? There is a murderous regime out there- even worse than that of Saddam Hussain that is run by US citizens. The US continues to play footsie with this regime- compromising ethics and human rights with its strategic ambitions.

      We stand behind you Tissai. We salute your fearlessness and integrity to write what is right in Sri Lanka.

    • orion7

      This guy (Tissanaiyagam) made a living by enjoying living in Colombo and mixing with all types of Sri Lankans while writing articles that intellectually called or supported the ideals of the LTTE terrorists. He also attacked moderate Tamils (such the murdered Tamil gov. minister Kadiragamar) as being traitors or sellouts.

      I believe Tissanayagam got what he deserved i.e. 20 years for fomenting ethnic tension in the country.

      One cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. Not even in the US. It is not protected by freedom of speech. This is exactly what he was doing with his writings. I hope he spends all his 20 years in jail. Good Riddance!

    • Anonymous

      My only comment. JST is just one example. PBS,please, please, please do enough research on why so many Tamils migrated to west and other countries..you will see SL Tamils almost in all parts of the world..why?? I’ll let you find the answer. Otherwise, it will be like treating the symptoms and not the disease.
      Racism has been plaguing the country since it’s independance in 1948. In addition to IDPs, the UN needs to define another term for the exclusive use on SL Tamils. i.e EDP (Externally Displaced People – People migrated to other countries).

    • Appapillai Rajendra

      Sri Lanka is no longer a democracy. It is ruled by war criminals and thugs who have changed the laws of the land to suppress freedom of the people and their free expression. The notorious anti-terrorism laws enacted by the government only uphold State Terror, and effectively impose restrictions on the local media in order to prevent the truth from reaching the outside world. It denounced the victims of oppression as aggressors and terrorists. To date over 14 journalists who had exposed the atrocities of the Sri Lankan Government (SLG) were ruthlessly killed (Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga included). J.S. Tissainayagam was found guilty just because he pointed out the injustice meted out to the Tamil community and was slammed with lies that he funded the LTTE, and thrown in jail for twenty years.

      This has been possible only because the world has been kept in the dark about the atrocious war the Government waged on the Tamils, by not permitting Human Rights Groups, the foreign media, the UN Organizations, or independent observers of their presence in the ‘War Zone” and the SLG saw to it that the UN Officials were packed out of Sri Lanka. The Government at all times fed misinformation and had spuriously ingrained in the minds of non Sri Lankans, the foreign media and World Governments that the LTTE was the most notorious Terror Organization in the World in an otherwise Resplendid Buddhist Paradise.

      Over the years it was the SLG that had engineered the assassinations of several Politicians, a President, a Foreign Minister, several Tamil politicians, Tamil Journalists, a near attempt to assassinate the Pakistani Envoy, and put the blame by default on the LTTE.

      On the assassination of the Sri Lankan President Premadasa, the SLG used a sinister campaign in implicating the LTTE to win over the sentiments of the International Community. The fact remains that when Minister Lalith Athulathmudali was killed by a gunman in a public park in Bambalapitiya on the 23rd of April, 1993 one week before Premadasa’s own killing, a wave of hatred against Premadasa had begun in which slogans were scrolled on the city’s walls that it was Premadasa or his friends who had murdered Lalith Athulathmudali. The question that some people were asking at the time had to do with the connection, if any, between Lalith’s assassination and that of Premadasa’s? In the absence of a public commission…Premadasa’s killing will continue to be regarded as another of the unsolved murders of this particularly murky period of our modern history.” Bradman Weerakoon: Rendering Unto Caesar. Vijitha Yapa Publications, Colombo, 2004, pp. 300-304. The Sri Lankan Government grabbed this opportunity to put the blame on the LTTE for the assassination

    • Appapillai Rajendra

      Continued….
      On the Assassination of the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, criminal elements or political elements involved in criminal activity in India might have had their own motives for assassinating Gandhi. It is even alleged that the CIA had a hand. The Jain Commission Report has not been released up to now for fear that the truth would be exposed. In a recent revelation, one of the witnesses at the Jain Commission, Trichi Velusamy, (over an interview with the popular Magazine “Kumutham”) had come out with a few names of political stalwarts and about the glaring details of his evidence he made to the Jain Commission on the conspiracy behind Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, where he says that the perpetrators had an easy scapegoat in the LTTE. The Sikh threat as summarized in the Jain Commission on Rajiv was real. The ‘in Prison trial’ implicating the LTTE lacks credibility because it took into custody an arbitrary suspect who does not fit the profile of an LTTE cadre, although his TELO affiliation was on record, there was an absence of proper evidence, and legal representation was disallowed for a fair hearing of the suspects, and without any impending verdict on Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, the GoSL had carried out a massive diplomatic campaign to put the blame on the LTTE. The GoSL maneuvered its strategy to destroy the LTTE and got it proscribed in India and other countries.

      Having tasted the rewards it has achieved in spreading misinformation it is unable to put an end to its agenda of annihilating the Tamils. And today, Sri Lanka apparently thinks Secretary Hillary Clinton is aiding and abetting terrorism. Along with Hillary, it also “implicated” the British Foreign Minister David Miliband and the Norwegian international development minister, Erik Solheim, by displaying posters that they are “Wanted Terrorists” in the capital city of Colombo. It had insulted the Swiss Government by refusing visa to its Foreign Minister, humiliated the ex Canadian prime Minister at the Colombo Air port by refusing him entry into Sri Lanka, refused visas two Canadian Parliamentarians, and point blank ridiculed the British Government that it is not prepared to listen to their lectures.

      It is not surprising that Sri Lanka has earned its reputation as one of the worst countries in the world for journalists.

    • Siva Ratnam

      Eroding standards and violations of Sri Lanka finally on world stage yet the curtains are down. Sri Lanka succeeded in discrediting Tamils for decades mislead and convinced rest of the world. Mis lead international community missed the root cause of the problem went ahead and supported the actions of Sri Lanka. Such behavior of Sri Lanka is not new for Tamils of Sri Lanka, but this time it is a well known fact around the world, high time such atrocious actions of Sri Lanka is stopped by the humanitarians of the world or else this devastation will be used as precedence for future attacks on Tamils, may not be by the same Govt but the next in line. A political settlement for basic survival of Tamils
      is becoming a desperate need for the Tamil minority now captive under the spell of evil.

    • ajith

      A journalist and a part-time terrorist should be above the law?
      The “freedom of press experts” would say yes. I would say No. Democracy does not endorse that. LTTE was a black NAZI fascist group with their ideology based on Tamil Supremacy and their goal was to create an ethnically pure exclusive tamil area just like Hitler did in Germany. With the help of “freedom of press” experts they managed to brainwash all the tamils of the country, ethnic-cleansed the whole Northern Sri Lanka with the shameful and dirty support of the corrupt western press. Mean while the bombs were exploding in the public places, busses, banks, hotels in colombo. “freedom of press” experts and corrupt NGOs kept on supporting this Nazi group. Now should we ask for justice? Well it’s an open question. We will have to start from Paris, London etc where the terror group had official addresses. Let’s say it’s too much to ask. Also because western people have a truely democratic way of thinking and were naive enough to be sympathetic to the so called “oppressed” tamil people. This is the work of the “freedom of press” experts were very careful hide one side of the facts and amplified the Nazi group’s voice. So the true culprit in my opinion is the press that brainwashed a population into racists. I would say let’s at least protect our country, sacrifice the “freedom of press” for the “freedom to live” of those who were not killed by the “free press” backed terrorists. Our president Mahinda must be praised for his courage and determination for making the country a paradise again for all it’s citizens of all races.

    • Siva Ratnam

      I am sure Ajith above has no complains about Sri Lanka’s methodology. He belongs to the majority Sinhalese never had the need to defend his rights may be.
      In my openion he doesnot seem to care much about human rights issues of Sri Lanka even when the majority Sinhala humanitarians are getting targeted. Ajith says “Our president Mahinda must be praised for his courage and determination for making the country a paradise again for all it’s citizens of all races”
      My reflex is.. until next time!! How many lives banished among Tamils in May 09 and during JVP uprising back in the 90’s? President himself made statements on camera against Tamils while he was with JVP in jungles of Sri Lanka. One doesnot need to be politically inclined to make such statemnets. I myself have no idea what JVP faught for, they were Tamil haters too, yet such mass killing in the 90’s was uncalled for. Now Sri Lanka is targeting Tamils only for defending themselves!! It is beyond me how anyone could justify Sri Lanka for treating their citizens this way and seek Sri Lanka’s glory for their gory actions. It is only damaging for the paradize you and I yearn for.

      I like to recall your careless statement here if you are a humanitarian, yearning for the paradise to return, you may need to put your hand on your heart, synchronize it with your thoughts, show compassion when publish your words. Thanks to PBS for the opportunity to comment and to Ajith for provoking my comment.

    • Anton

      Ajith,

      Tamil identity it self is a secular identity. Tamil is not an ethnic group but it is a language. The Tamil identity has Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and many other religions. The Tamil Muslims are Arabs traders speaking Tamils or mixed with the population that originally spoke Tamil. There is a considerable amount colonial mixture to the Tamils who practice Christianity. There is considerable amount of Brahmin (so called “Aryan” race) mixture to the Tamils.

      LTTE did not seek to create a mono-ethnic state as there is no mono-ethnic population in the Tamil identity. LTTE adored and protected the Tamil language (identity), because the Tamil identity was the target of Sri Lankan government and its Sinhalese population to completely assert its domination over the island and proclaim it as a Sinhala-Buddhist state.

      LTTE never created the struggle of the Tamil speaking people to self-determination. The successive Sinhala government of Sri Lanka’s policies and violence on the Tamils pushed the Tamil speaking people for self-determination which eventually resulted in the creation of LTTE by the Tamils speaking people to protect themselves.

      Ajith,

      Tamil identity it self is a secular identity. Tamil is not an ethnic group but it is a language. The Tamil identity has Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and many other religions. The Tamil Muslims are Arabs traders speaking Tamils or mixed with the population that originally spoke Tamil. There is a considerable amount colonial mixture to the Tamils who practice Christianity. There is considerable amount of Brahmin (so called “Aryan” race) mixture to the Tamils.

      LTTE did not seek to create a mono-ethnic state as there is no mono-ethnic population in the Tamil identity. LTTE adored and protected the Tamil language (identity), because the Tamil identity was the target of Sri Lankan government and its Sinhalese population to completely assert its domination over the island and proclaim it as a Sinhala-Buddhist state.

      LTTE never created the struggle of the Tamil speaking people to self-determination. The successive Sinhala government of Sri Lanka’s policies and violence on the Tamils pushed the Tamil speaking people for self-determination which eventually resulted in the creation of LTTE by the Tamils speaking people to protect themselves.

      Tissainayagam case is another example of how the legal system is manipulated by the Sinhalese government of Sri Lankan to suppress the Tamils lawfully while most of them are being tortured to death by the occupying Sri Lankan armed forces. I say the only solution is to free the Tamil people and charge every single Sinhalese on the island of racisms, hate crime and war crimes until they can prove themselves that they are innocent. That island needs to be filtered and racists Sinhalese put in jail for minimum 20 years of hard labor.

    • For the past 35 years Sri Lanka has been ruled under the PTA.Its horror effects on ethnic minority Tamils makes the crimes committed against persons even under Apartheid South Africa seem light. Murder, mass murder, rape against its citizens by the Sinhala forces had been regularised under this draconian legislation without recourse to habeas corpus which has been buried. On top of that is the badly failed governance by governments since independence against all its citizens, particularly Tamils, based on age old historical legends which are trotted out by politicians with relish to rabble rouse the voters by preying on their emotions to win elections and power!. If anyone wants to get more details they should read all about it on the internet.The Chemmani mass graves in 1995 to the recent Wanni massacre stand as living testimony of what amounts to genocide by SL governments.No wonder it moves heaven and earth to evade investigation by the UN by hook or by crook by cultivating governments under various means and which have poor human rights records.

      One of the early victims of failed governance in SL had been free and fair reportage and journalism. Poor Tissanayagam who was earlier much appreciated in the south during the JVP uprising when an estimated 40,000 Sinhala citizens were mass murdered by the state’s military, including by then human rights lawyers (including Mahinda Rajapakse?) even before the PTA was formulated for his crtical accounts when people’s human rights had been trampled upon. Free journalism was OK then!

      But why maltreat him in this manner now just because he did his duty and obeyed his conscience when it came to his own people.

      Not one of the state’s military had been brought to justice since 1983 except for the rape and murder of a teenage girl Krishanty Kumaraswamy, his aunt and brother in 1995 when a corporal was found guilty and sentenced to death. In his defence in court he cited: “why am I the only person to be condemned when ‘others’ are responsible for mass graves of Tamil youths such as at Chemmani! The condemned Corporal led the police to Chemmani and bodies were unearthed and there were international lawyers involved. The case is still open! Has the Attorney General forgotten that case? Since then many more mass graves were reported in the world news coverage.

      The lesson: muzzle the press under contrived legislation such as PTA and this coupled with failed govearnce releases all hell to be let loose by the state on disadvantaged people!

      It may be one section of people or person today it may be your turn tommorrow!That is why democracy is not only about elections but also enabling provisions such as the Rule of Law, justice and a free press are so vital.

      The earlier Tissanayagam receives a fair Judicial Review the better for all citizens.

    • Konappu Bandara

      Shame on you PBS for writing such an article supporting a convicted terrorist supporter. This evil fellow was on the payroll of LTTE terrorists. His bank records prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. I will think again during next PBS fund drive about contributing to an organization romanticizing terrorists.

      Please do a simple exercise, folks! Replace the word LTTE with Al Qaeda and see what you think of the article.

      Cheers!

    • Konappu Bandara

      J. Tissanayagam was found guilty on all of the following 3 charges:
      1) Attempting to cause the commission of acts of violence or racial or communal disharmony with clear intentions of causing disrepute to the government, an act of conspiracy.

      2) Attempting to cause the commission of acts of violence or racial or communal disharmony relating to articles he published in the North Eastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007, and

      3) Collecting and obtaining information for the purpose of terrorism and raising funds for the purpose of terrorism through the collection of funds for the said magazine.

      He was given successive sentences of 5, 5 and 10 years rigorous imprisonment, respectively on each charge.

      The prosecution showed that Tissanayagam had strong links with the LTTE and supported it through his actions, for which he was indicted.
      Cheers!

    • Ram

      Good article, btw the Sri Lankan govt has been equally (and sometimes more) ruthless with Sinhalese journalists as well

      A Sinhalese journalist (Lasantha Wickramatunga) was murdered this year and there was a good New York Times editorial “Letter from the grave” on his death.
      See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/opinion/19mon3.html which talks about why Wickramatunga said that he was willing to do his job as a journalist even though it meant that his life was at risk.

      Also see http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/13/world/asia/13iht-lanka.1.19312620.html

      That article says –

      Lasantha Wickramatunga, a prominent Sri Lankan journalist and outspoken critic of the government’s war on ethnic Tamil rebels, knew he was marked for death – and thought he knew why.

      Three days after he was shot and killed, his newspaper published a haunting, self-written obituary on Sunday in which Wickramatunga says he was targeted for his writings and adds: “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”

    • csj

      Tamil Habitat of Humanity is misled by global society.

    • Gamage

      Ajith’s posting sumarized it all. LTTE was a black NAZI fascist group. The fact that he associates black with Nazi shows the racism found among south asians. They look down on darker skinner people and this has as much to do with the fight in Sri Lanka as anything else. The Sinhalease consider themselves ‘Aryans’ and there has always been jealousy due to the dark Tamils success in business, science and medicine. This success was frowned upon in a country where Sinhalease were majority. This lead to killing in the 60s, 70s and finally the major riots of the 80s. This happened before LTTE had even support among the Tamils. LTTE was formed as a result of majority and governmental discrimination. It is sad that my community still has not recognized our sins upon the Tamils.

    • Siva Ratnam

      There are a few Sinhalese speaking agaist the reality others are waiting for the paradize to return without addressing the REAL issues of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese majority input is badly needed to address the real issues with the regime. If LTTE is facist in the eyes of Sinhalese just compare LTTE with the military of Sri Lanka. As per the statistics provided by the comments above mass graves of Chemmany, victims of JVP uprising and Vanni massacre death toll put together shows how much respect Sri Lanka has for human life & dignity. Why blame the LTTE while they defended the Tamil people of the North of Sri Lanka. Surely there is a major fault in governing Sri Lanka since independence. Victims are the innocent civilians, politicians play the game of chess while in parliament and walk away with a golden hand shake after degrading Sri Lanka even further.
      Sri Lanka needs many more Lasanthas & Tissainayagams to show reality on the ground so that Sri Lanka will be compelled to tidy up their actions. Praising Sri Lanka even when much evidence of violations is cetainly not patriotic. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” MLK.
      Taking humanitarians and reporters into prison can bring no paradize but further evil in my view.

    • Anonymous

      Oh Makeswaran! (I know you are a hardline Sihalese though you use Tamil name):

      Okay, you forced me to write another comment in this thread…..you got to seriously change if you would ever see a united SL. It’s because of people like you, SL is still a third world country though it has tremendous potential…Don’t ever compare the laws of the lands in the west with Sri Lanka’s kangaroo court rules. Can you write something like this against the SL Govt and within the framework of the so called “rule of the land”?? You definetly know that you will be shot/hammered the next day right? That’s the difference brother. You enjoy writing here because directly/indirectly you know that you’re protected.

      You know what happened to Lasantha, Sivaram, BBC Tamil service reporter and a whole bunch of other journalists…..If it doesn’t make any sense, well, then ask SL kanagaroo court to give Saratha a 20 yr prison term too (as I started hearing the chorus ‘traitor’)!

    • RussellB

      It brought tears when I read about one of the Sri Lankan leaders giggled when Sonali (the slain editor Lasantha’s wife) inquired the Defence Secretary about her husband.
      http://unbowedandunafraid.com/uusite/440131

      The peace in Sri Lanka remains elusive with the rough-to-ready nature of the Sri Lankan leaders in killing journalists and hostility, vulgar triumphalism and punitive aspects towards the vulnerable groups.

      People are left with no choice but to elect lesser of the evils. Well, that’s the history of the country.

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