Demise of Journalism and survival of Tissa

Dare to say…

The masscre-styled ending of the war in Sri Lanka could have not occurred unless  ‘demise’ of journalism, I believe. ‘ They’ could do rampage,  which  had been facilitated by a ‘demise’ of journalism, on which ‘they’ have waged a war as well.   

‘War on Media’ was a part of a counter insugency, while media -particularly right wing media-itself have taken part in that counter insurgency ‘actively’. They’re armed with pen, which is said to be stronger than sword. 

I was often appalled, sometimes sighed as I turned over pages of (english) newspapers in Colombo, feeling rather sorrowful to witness a demise of journalism or lack of the very least sympathy on their “fellow citizens” in a war zone, where hundreds of thousands civilians were to be massacred by government forces. 

This is why…painful to see a fellow journalist, Tissa who’s one of the few brilliant & brave journalists, to be jailed for 20 years simply for what he’s done as a journalist. 

He’s named as a winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, and he’s also selected winner of ‘2009 international Press Freedom Award’ by Committee to Protect Journalists (or CPJ).

Not enough. Tissa should be free A.S.A.P. to revive a demising journalism in the Island.

Articles and links on the latest of Tissa are following :       

 – Penseur21 –

Sri Lankan Editor Lauded by Obama Is Sentenced to 20 Years

By LYDIA POLGREEN

Published: August 31, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — On World Press Freedom Day in May, President Obama held up J. S. Tissainayagam, the editor of a crusading magazine in Sri Lanka who has been jailed since March 2008, as a symbol of the oppression of the media.

On Monday, a judge in Sri Lanka sentenced Mr. Tissainayagam to 20 years of hard labor for violating the country’s tough antiterrorism laws by writing articles highly critical of a government military offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels who had controlled a large chunk of Sri Lanka’s north.

Mr. Tissainayagam, who is Tamil, was the editor of the now-defunct North Eastern Monthly magazine, and was accused of accepting money and other support from the Tigers. He was convicted under laws that give harsh sentences for offenses like using racially divisive language or promoting disharmony. These laws were enacted in response to the Tamil Tiger insurgency. The insurgents, members of the Hindu Tamil minority, sought a separate state from Sri Lanka’s Buddhist, Sinhalese majority. The government decisively defeated the Tigers in a bloody final battle on a strip of beach in northern Sri Lanka in May, ending one of Asia’s longest civil wars.

As is often the case with local journalists in conflict zones, Mr. Tissainayagam’s reporting reflected the prevailing point of view of the minority to which he belonged, but the government argued that his work went further.

“The Constitution itself gives freedom of press, but that doesn’t allow anybody to spread false information to spur ethnic violence,” Sudarshana DeSilva, the prosecutor, told the court, Reuters reported.

But rights advocates say that Mr. Tissainayagam’s sentence reflects the plight of Sri Lanka’s embattled press corps. At least seven journalists have been killed since 2007, including some singled out by the Tamil Tigers. Many more have fled the country.

“It is very serious blow,” said Sanjana Hattotuwa, editor of Groundviews, a citizen journalism Web site. “It sends a chilling message that the independent expression of opinion is no longer tolerated in Sri Lanka.”

Lucien Rajakarunanayake, spokesman for Sri Lanka’s president and a columnist, said that Mr. Tissainayagam had the right to appeal.

“The court has believed the evidence placed before it,” Mr. Rajakarunanayake said. “That he did accept money from a terrorist organization and did work that furthered the cause of terrorism in this country.”

The sentence is sure to increase pressure from the West on Sri Lanka’s government, which has been criticized for its handling of the last battle against the Tamil Tigers and the treatment of Tamils displaced by the war.

Mr. Tissainayagam’s lawyer told reporters that he planned to appeal. Though he confessed, he later said that the confession was given under duress. Legal experts said that the antiterrorism laws under which he was convicted violated the Constitution.

Asanga Welikala, a lawyer who has written on press freedom in Sri Lanka, said that the law was so vague that practically any speech could be prosecuted.

“Totally unacceptable that we should have such a law, and even more unacceptable that a court of law should feel that this journalist should get the maximum possible sentence under that law for simply doing his job,” he said.

source : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/01/world/asia/01lanka.html

Jail term for S Lanka journalist

A Sri Lankan court has sentenced a prominent Tamil journalist to 20 years in prison after convicting him under anti-terrorism laws.

High Court Judge Deepali Wijesundara found JS Tissainayagam guilty of “causing communal disharmony”.

Mr Tissainayagam was arrested in 2008 and charged with inciting violence in articles in his magazine, the North Eastern Monthly, which is now closed.

He was also accused of receiving funds from the Tamil Tigers rebels.

Mr Tissainayagam was found guilty of causing “racial hatred” and “supporting terrorism”, a court official said.

The court found that he had received money from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to fund his website, the official said.

Mr Tissainayagam’s case has received widespread attention in Sri Lanka. International rights group have been campaigning for his release – they say Sri Lanka is using anti-terror laws to silence peaceful critics.

Mr Tissainayagam was held for more than five months before he was charged with publishing and distributing a magazine, alleged to have brought the government into disrepute.

Campaign groups say Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

source : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8230067.stm

Tissa named winner of the Peter Mackler Award

WASHINGTON (AFP) – J. S. Tissainayagam, a Sri Lankan reporter sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, has been named the first winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.
“We are happy to reward J.S. Tissainayagam in 2009, a terrible year for Sri Lanka,” said Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary-general of the Paris-based press rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“This country needs journalists who are determined and concerned with finding the truth,” Julliard said in a statement issued hours after Tissainayagam was jailed for 20 years on charges of supporting terrorism.

“J.S. Tissainayagam is one of those and should never have been imprisoned,” he said. “Sri Lankans have the right to be informed about what is happening on their island.

“They have the right to read words written by men like J. S. Tissainayagam.”

Tissainayagam was selected for the Peter Mackler Award, named for a 30-year veteran of Agence France-Presse who died last year, by the US branch of RSF and Global Media Forum (GMF), a company founded by Mackler to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also announced Monday that it will honor Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award at a ceremony in November.

“We are announcing this award today to highlight the depth of outrage at this unjust sentence,” said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.

Tissainayagam, who has been cited by US President Barack Obama as an “emblematic example” of a persecuted journalist, was sentenced to 20 years of hard labor.

He was found guilty on charges of receiving money from the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and causing racial hatred through his writings about Tamils affected by the LTTE war for a separate homeland.

RSF said Tissainayagam will be formally awarded the Peter Mackler prize at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington on October 2. Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of The Washington Post, will be the keynote speaker.

The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June 2008 to honor the memory of Mackler, who died of a heart attack that month at the age of 58.

Mackler covered wars, elections and other notable events around the world during his career at AFP and was key in transforming the agency’s English language service into the international competitor it is today.

The Peter Mackler Award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized.

 

 

 

source : http://www.dailymirror.lk/DM_BLOG/Sections/frmNewsDetailView.aspx?ARTID=60011

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