The judgment in the case against senior journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam Tissainayagam is due to be delivered Monday the 31st of August.
J.S.Tissainayagam is a respected columnist and was the editor of Outreachsl.com. He was arbitrarily detained by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo on March 7, 2008. The arrest came after the Police raided a printing press in Colombo, owned by V. Jaseekaran, a one time journalist attached to a Batticaloa based Tamil newspaper Thinakathir. The police arrested Mr.V.Jaseekaran and his wife Ms.Valarmathy during the raid. Mr.Tissainayagam was detained following a visit he made to the offices of the TID requesting information about the detention of his colleagues and subsequently indicted five months later under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for two articles written by him in a monthly magazine. He has been detained for 425 days so far.
Mr.Tissainayagam is the first Sri Lankan journalist formally charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and one of less than a handful of journalists facing counter-terrorism charges in any country with a democratically elected government.
The PTA, a draconian law that has remained on Sri Lanka's statute books despite being introduced in 1979 as an ostensibly temporary measure. Under the PTA and Rules of Emergency, a confession made by an accused is admissible in court and the prosecution does not need a witness. Tissainayagam later revealed that he had been tortured in prison and his confession was given under duress. But the Government repeatedly rejected calls for bail.
The charges are:
1.The accused together with unknown persons conspired to commit an offence by intending to cause the commission of acts of violence through inciting communal disharmony by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, through the printing or distribution of the publication North Eastern Monthly magazine.
2.An offence by the accused himself has been committed by intending to cause the commission of acts of violence through inciting racial or communal disharmony by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, through the printing or distribution of the publication North Eastern Monthly Magazine.
3.The third charge under the Emergency Regulations of 2006 relates to acting in furtherance of specified terrorist activities, ("specified terrorist activities" being defined as offences under the PTA) by contributing or collecting or obtaining information relating to the purpose of terrorism through the collection of funds for the North Eastern Monthly magazine.
The charges against Tissainayagam refer to two articles he wrote in 2006 for the North-Eastern Monthly, in which he criticizes the Government's military campaign and its impact on civilians.
It was reported that Tissainayagam has contracted both tuberculosis and acute infected scabies while in detention and was denied access to adequate medical treatment.
Full text of Tissainayagam's statement to the Court - Amnesty International
United in Fear: Travails of Detainee families - Ronnate Tissainayagam
SRI LANKA: Tamil journalists detained - International Pen
Release Tissa, Ven. Samitha asks Govt. - The Sunday Times
An international appeal for the release of journalists - Law & Society Trust
Bishop queries continued detention of journalist - The Sunday Times
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
UNITED NATIONS, August 30 -- The video footage depicting the Sri Lankan Army committing summary executions will be raised to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his impending visit to Oslo, Norwegian Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim has vowed. On August 26 at a regular press briefing before Ban left New York, Inner City Press asked his Spokesperson Michele Montas if he or she had seen the footage, and for a UN Secretariat comment. There was no response to the video, and so the the link to the video was provided. In the four days since there has been no UN Secretariat comment.
Later on August 26 at a hastily convened stakeout in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked August's Council president and UK Ambassador John Sawers about the footage. He said he'd yet to see it but had read about it, and found it disturbing. He said the the UK would expect it to be investigated, by Sri Lanka in the first instance.
Sri Lanka has condemned Solheim for calling for a UN investigation. But it has not conducted any investigation of its own: its High Commissioner in London issued a denial as soon as the video came out. Is it Sri Lanka's vituperative reaction or something else, observers wonder, that is holding Ban back from commenting on the widely circulated video?
© Inner City Press
Eric Soleheim to discuss Channel 4 video with Ban Ki Moon - Lanka Journal
Sri Lanka sees Solheim being partisan as facilitator - Daily Mirror
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) is shocked to learn that another media personnel had been abducted in Sri Lanka although he was released next day.
Prageeth Eknaligoda, cartoonist and political analyst, was abducted on 27th August 2009 by a group who followed him in a white van. He was on his way home on Makandura road, Homagama around 12.30 am when the abduction took place. According to Prageeth Eknaligoda he was forcibly bundled into the van blindfolded, hand cuffed and taken away.
The abductors kept him overnight in an unidentified location. The next morning he was told that he was abducted by mistake and consequently, he was dropped in an area called Korathota after being warned not to disclose this incident to anyone.
Speaking to a news website he has told that he was not sure of the reason for his abduction and that it could either be a mistake or an attempt to intimidate him. Further he mentioned that the abductors seemed to be trained personnel.
Prageeth Elnaligoda has worked as a political cartoonist and political analyst for number of print and online news media. He has been a strong critic of Sinhala chauvinism and the dictatorial tendencies of the present regime.
While unreservedly condemning this dastardly act of abduction, JDS calls for an independent and speedy investigation of this incident. The JDS emphasize that to disregard the aim of the abduction will result in more self-censorship among the journalists in Sri Lanka. It will worsen the prevailing climate of fear among journalists while paving the way to silence all the dissenting voices. This incident shows that even three months after claiming ‘war victory’ the government of Sri Lanka has not been able to stop abductions taking place in the country.
Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka
Former journalist abducted and released - The Sunday Times
Media personality Prageeth Eknaligoda abducted and released - Lanka News Web
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