Journalist hailed by Obama gets 20 years hard labour in Sri Lanka
Posted on September 1st, 2009

Asoka Weerasinghe Kings Grove Crescent . Gloucester . Ontario . K1J 6G1 Canada

September 1, 2009
The Editor (Letters)
Just because Tamil reporter J.S. Tissainayagam who got  20 years hard labour for violating Sri Lanka’s strict Prevention of Terrorism Act was hailed by Barak Obama as an “emblematic example” of a persecuted journalist, he certainly is not above the law. Far from it.
The reporter was intelligent enough to understand that according to the PTA publishing treasonous material will get him into trouble, but he went ahead anyway with writing and publishing bold and excessively exaggerated articles in the now-defunct Northeastern Monthly magazine in 2006 and 2007 which criticized the government’s conduct against the Tamil Tiger terrorists, who were from the same ethnic community as he is.
When the Government of Sri Lanka has every right to impose conditions of zero tolerance towards false reporting and defend the credibility of the Nation, then what is the problem?  Is it because the reporter was a Tamil and should have been allowed to support the now defunct Tamil Tiger terrorists who were at war with a democratically elected Government for the want of their separate state, Eelam; or is it because he was that much special and should have been given the freedom to breach protocols governing press freedom; or is  it because Barak Obama weighed in to support a reporter who challenged a country’s laws who were pandering to the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world?  I just don’t get it.
  Let’s not be silly about it and make a big issue of this judgement.  After all, he had a lawyer of his choice to defend him, when the prosecuting lawyer said, “The constitution itself gives freedom of the press, but that doesn’t allow anybody to spread false information to spur ethnic violence.”
This hue and cry over the judgement is utter nonsense.
Asoka Weerasinghe

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