Honored for their work, threatened at home CPJ introduces 2009 International Press Freedom Awardees Washington, November 19, 2009—Naziha Réjiba, editor of the Tunisian online news journal Kalima, said she knows what to expect when she returns home—surveillance, harassment, and threats conducted by one the world’s most repressive governments. “While I’m speaking, many homes of Tunisian journalists are completely surrounded,” Réjiba, one of four recipients of the 2009 International Press Freedom Awards, told reporters at the National Press Club today, describing state surveillance. The Committee to Protect Journalists gives the awards each year to courageous journalists working in dangerous and repressive circumstances. At today’s press conference, CPJ also introduced awardee Mustafa Haji Abdinur, an Agence France-Presse correspondent and editor-in-chief of Radio Simba in Somalia. Two other CPJ awardees, J.S. Tissainayagam of Sri Lanka and Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan, were recognized but not present: They are imprisoned in their home countries in retaliation for their work.(more)

The Tissanayagam Felicitation Ceremony

Please see photo gallery Jayathilake Bandara sings about Thissainayagam at Felicitation Ceramony held in Colombo on 7 th October. This song made by Manjula Wediwardane on 31 August the date thissa was Sentanced
Sri Lankan journalist J.S Tissainayagam rewarded by the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism
Global Media Forum and the US branch of Reporters Without Borders have formally awarded the respected Sri Lankan journalist and editor J. S. Tissainayagam as first winner of the Peter Mackler Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 2, 2009. His wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, was present at the ceremony to receive the Award. “For the last 20 years my husband has endeavoured to pursue the goals that Mr.Mackler believed in as a journalist. Like Peter, my husband was never too busy to encourage those who wanted to learn to write and has helped many in journalism. Today my husband is continuing to teach me courage and grace in difficult times. For him no matter what the circumstances are; there is no excuse for unkindness. No matter what circumstance fellow human beings must be treated with dignity », said Ronnate Tissainayagam. J. S Tissainayagam is a respected Tamil journalist and editor who 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 March 7, 2008 by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) of the Sri Lanka police and got a 20 year sentence on terrorism charges today on August 31st.(more)
ICJ Condemns Misuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws to Prosecute Sri Lankan Journalist, J. S. Tissainayagam 11 September 2009 Today the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) released its Trial Observation Report (http://www.icj.org/IMG/ICJ_Tissa_Trial_Observation_Report_11_Sept_09.pdf) regarding proceedings before the Colombo High Court in the prosecution of J.S. Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist. On 31 August 2009, Mr Tissainayagam was convicted under anti-terrorism laws and sentenced by Judge Deepali Wijesundara to 20 years “rigorous imprisonment.” (more) ---------------------------------------------- Blow to media freedomThe August 31 verdict of a Colombo High Court sentencing the veteran journalist and columnist J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment under the country’s draconian anti-terror law has raised concerns across the world on the ...
CPJ award goes to jailed Sri Lankan journalist New York, August 31,2009. The Committee to Protect Journalists announced today that it will honor imprisoned Sri Lankan journalist J.S. Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award. Tissainayagam, left, sentenced today to 20 years in prison on specious charges of violating anti-terror laws, is one of five journalists who will be honored by CPJ at a ceremony in November. The full slate of awardees, selected by CPJ's Board of Directors this summer, will be formally announced in September. A Colombo High Court sentenced Tissainayagam to 20 years of hard labor in the first conviction of a journalist under the country's harsh anti-terror laws. Tissainayagam, known as Tissa, suffers from poor health and said his confession to the charge was extracted under threat of torture, according to his lawyers. (more)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

a vigil on 1st January, 5pm, in front of Fort railway station

A few of us are organizing a vigil on 1st January, 5pm, in front of Fort railway station – being the 300 days of detention of Tissa, Jesse and Valarmathy

Details to follow – sending this to inform you and seek your support in advance

Kindly request your support for this

Even though its 1st January, try to come and give about an hour for their freedom
Ask other friends, family and colleagues to join
Contribute financially for the posters being printed

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Two New Articles

Dangers of doing your job well The irony here is like a joke gone sour; senior Tamil journalist JS Tissainayagam, the editor of a monthly magazine who is in jail for nine months now, is held in a prison in the heart of the capital called, well, Colombo Magazine Prison.The funny part ends there. For Tissainayagam and two of his former colleagues it has been more a tragedy, unfolding rather painstakingly.

Sri Lanka Court Upholds Alleged Confession by Tissainayagam
A Sri Lankan court has ruled that an alleged confession made by senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam while detained by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) was voluntary and admissible as evidence in his trial on terrorism charges. The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) is informed however that Tissainayagam was forced to make a statement to TID under extreme duress.
Giving evidence in Colombo's High Court on November 5, Tissainayagam denied making a voluntary confession. (more)


Monday, September 8, 2008

Media Release: Sri Lanka September 8, 2008
Release Tissa: IFJ Launches Video Campaign to Free Sri Lankan Journalist
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its local affiliates in Sri Lanka today launched an online campaign video condemning the arrest and indictment of senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainyagam, whose passed his sixth month in jail on September 7.

All individuals and organisations are invited to join the campaign to Stop the War on Journalists in Sri Lanka and watch the “Release Tissa” video at http://asiapacific.ifj.org/articles/free-tissainayagam to help generate international support to end the attacks on free media in Sri Lanka.Tissainayagam was arrested on March 7, 2008, while working as the editor of the online magazine http://www.outreachsl.com/.
2 September 2008
The Indictment
1. This complaint states that in Colombo, which is within the jurisdiction of this court during the period between 1st June 2006 and 1st June 2007, the accused together with unknown persons committed an offence or abetted the commission of an offence or entered into a common intention with a prior understanding to abet the commission of an offence whether planned or unplanned, by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, ....(more)
The best of times and the worst of times
By Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Certainly it is now, (to borrow a dearly immortalized phrase), the best of times and the worst of times. It is the worst of times for never before have the assaults on basic freedoms of life, liberty and democratic space been so prolonged and so pervasive or accompanied by such comprehensive subversion of constitutional institutions.

25 August 2008

The first instance of a journalist being accused . . .
J.S. Tissanayagam was indicted, in the first instance of a journalist being accused under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, in the Colombo High Court yesterday (Aug. 25th) on charges of having plotted to bring the government into
disrepute and having attempted to incite communal feelings.
තිස්සගේ නඩුව සහ මහින්දගේ වාර්තාව

සුනන්ද දේශප්‍රීය

මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ ආණ්ඩුව මාධ්‍ය මර්ධනයෙහි ලා තවත් වාර්තාවක් තැබුවේ ය. ඒ තිස් වසරක් තරම් කාලයක් පුරා ජනමාධ්‍යට සහ ජනමාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට එරෙහිව යොදා නොගැනුනු ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්විමේ පනත යටතේ ජනමාධ්‍යවේ දි තිස්සෙයිනායගම්ට එරෙහිව නඩු පැවරීම මගිනි. ( more)

පුවත්පත් නිවේදනය

2008 අගෝස්තු 20, කොළඹ දී

මාධ්‍යවේදී ජේ.එස්. තිස්සනායගම්ට එරෙහිව නඩු පැවරේ

ඉතා විශ්වාස කටයුතු මාධ්‍ය මූලාශ්‍රයක් මඟින් අප මාධ්‍ය සංවිධාන වෙත දැනගන්නට ලැබී ඇති අන්දමට 2008 මාර්තු 07 වැනි දා සිට මේ දක්වා ත්‍රස්ත විමර්ශණ අංශයේ අත්අඩංගුවේ රඳවා තබාගෙන සිටි මාධ්‍යවේදී ජේ.එස්. තිස්සනායගම් මහතාට එරෙහිව මහාධිකරණයෙහි නඩු පවරා තිබේ. ඔහුට එරෙහිව ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇති චෝදනා පත්‍රය තවමත් අප වෙත ලැබී නැති නමුත් අපගේ තොරතුරු මූලාශ්‍රවලට අනුව තිස්සනායගම් මහතාට එරෙහිව නඩු පවරනු ලැබ ඇත්තේ පහත දැක්වෙන චෝදනා යටතේය.( more)
15 August 2008
Call for release of website editor accused of terrorism
Reporters Without Borders calls on the Sri Lankan government to release J. S. Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist who has been held since March. A government minister has just said he is charged with terrorism on the basis of articles written in 2006 and his activities as the editor of a website."This respected journalist's illegal and unjust detention is being accompanied by grotesque charges that are a serious violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Sri Lankan constitution
A Story About a Tamil Called Tissa Tissainayagam
By Eric HüblerThu.
A dissident columnist is hauled away on a meaningless “detention order.” His frantic wife says he has been beaten — and is, in all likelihood, being beaten at this moment. She begs a family friend with international ties to get word out; the friend fires off an email to an influential American acquaintance, begging him to use his pull with Washington and the media to put unrelenting pressure on the embassy.
More than 150 days of detention without charges:
Release of Mr. J.S Tissainayagam, Mr. N. Jasiharan and Mrs. Valarmathy immediately
Senior journalist, Sunday Times columnist and editor of the website www.outreachsl.com, Mr. J. S. Tissainayagam remains in custody without specific charges being brought against him for more than 150 days, even though the Attorney General’s department has informed the Supreme Court on July 11th 2008 that investigations are over.
For Immediate ReleaseSri Lanka:
Free Journalist and Other CriticsGovernment Misusing Emergency Regulations(New York, August 8, 2008)
– The Sri Lankan government should release a prominent journalist and two others connected to a website critical of the government, Human Rights Watch said today. The three have been held without charge since March under emergency regulations
Stop war on Journalists
Arbitrary detention/ medical concern SRI LANKA Tissainaygam (m), journalist Journalist (more)

Arbitrary detention SRI LANKA Tissainayagam (m), journalist (more)
Press release Officials pressured local press to tone down criticism during EU delegation visit (more)

Sunday February 24, 2008 Columns – Telescope Child soldiers: What the Govt. report did not report By J.S. Tissainayagam (more)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Media freedom must be ensured with security

The current un-abated wave of violence against media personnel must be aserious concern to all citizens of the country. Intimidation against the media is a violation of the rights of the people to information.The most recent attack on Namal Perera and Mahendra Ratnaweera in broad day-light on a busy road in Colombo must be condemned unreservedly by all Sri Lankans.The long drawn detention of Tissanayagam without a clearly stated reason remains a continuing concern to many. The Country and indeed the world cannot understand why this Sri Lankan journalist is being treated this way. I urge the President to personally look into his detention.
Investigations must be expedited. If found guilty of an offence he must be tried under the law. If he is innocent he must be released immediately.The inability of the authorities to so far investigate the several acts of violence and prosecute the perpetrators cannot simply be attributed to incompetence or the absence of evidence. A very sophisticated intelligence system now prevails in the Country. Consequently the process of law and order must be allowed to take its independent course so that professional freedom and personal security are both ensured for all Media personnel.
Many media personnel and their families have paid a very costly and personal price and we will never know the psychological trauma and physical damage done to them. I extend the solidarity and assurance of the prayers of our Church to all those who have suffered and whose dignity has been violated in the exercise of your professional and civic responsibilities. Many remain indebted to you.I call upon all Parliamentarians and Cabinet Ministers irrespective of Political Party affiliation, to raise and debate this issue. You are obliged to do so. You cannot remain silent or justify this trend.With peace and blessings to all.

The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera
Bishop of Colombo
7th July 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Court overrules submission to transfer Tissainayagam to prison

By T. Farook Thajudeen

The Colombo Chief Magistrate, yesterday, made order to continue the detention of journalist J.S.S. Tissainayagam, V. Jesiheren and Valarmadi Vaduvel with the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID).
The magistrate in his order stated that the suspects were detained by the TID on detention orders of the Defence Secretary, and produced before in court on the pleadings of the suspects’ counsel, and court had no jurisdiction to make order to remand them in prison.
On May 5 they were not produced in court, and the TID had informed court that they were taken away for some investigations. Accordingly the case was called on June 26, and the suspects were produced in court on that day. They were produced in court on that day on the application of the suspects’ counsel made on June 23.
On that day the seventh suspect’s counsel had complained that the fifth suspect had been tortured at the TID. The court ordered the TID to produce the suspect before the JMO for examination and report. The TID were also ordered to file a report.
The suspects’ counsel had subsequently brought to the attention of the court the Emergency Regulations of August 13, 2008, and submitted that detaining them with the TID was illegal since 90 days had already elapsed. Even under a valid detention order the question arises about the place of detention, he said.
The magistrate stated the question before the court was whether court had jurisdiction to remand them in prison
There is no jurisdiction for the magistrate to release the suspect without the Attorney General’s consent, according to the provisions of Bail Act, although the magistrate has the jurisdiction to enlarge suspects in bail when a suspect was detained for 90 days. If the OIC is of the opinion that the suspect should be released, the OIC is empowered to do so
On the lapse of 90 days, if the OIC is not continuing the investigating, the suspect should be produced in court for the court to make appropriate order.
If there is proof that the suspects had committed an offence and the investigations were not completed, they could be further detained, according to the Defence Secretaries Gazette notification. At the end of 90 days if the suspects were produced in court, it means that the investigations were concluded.
In this case the TID did not produce the suspects in court at the conclusion of the investigations.
In this case counsel for one of the suspects complained to court that the suspect had been assaulted and court ordered the TID to produce him before the JMO for examination and report.
At this stage the TID did not voluntarily produce the suspects in court. Neither had the TID reported that the investigations were concluded. Therefore to detain the suspect in a prison would result in the judiciary being found fault with for rupturing the investigations of the TID.
Accordingly, court dismissed the counsels’ pleadings and made order to detain the suspects with the TID.
The magistrate allowed an application to allow Tissainayagam to obtain a pair of spectacles after testing his eyes at the Eye Hospital. The case will be called on September 5
Counsel M. A. Sumanthiran and K.V. Thavarasha appeared for the suspects.

Silent demo. for Tissa’s release

By Kurulu Kariyakarawana

Journalists, human rights activists and members of the clergy held a silent demonstration outside the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court premises yesterday, demanding the immediate release of detained columnist J S Tissainayagam.
Journalists representing five media organizations: the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association, the Sri Lanka Tamil Journalists’ Alliance, the Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, the Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions and the Free Media Movement, took part in the demonstration, which continued for a couple of hours.
The demonstrators displayed placards calling for the immediate release of Mr. Tissainayagam, who has been in detention for more than 100 days.
Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association President Sanath Balasooriya said the journalist had been detained on suspicion at the Terrorist Investigation Division for over 115 days without any charges being framed against him.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Request to release journalist Tissanayagam -

A media that operates independently plays a very important role in ensuring the healthy and meaningful functioning of a government. Keeping the public informed and developing a sense about their own rights is amongst the important roles played by media.

Suppression of media freedom is am indicator of an unhealthy society. It is the duty of any democratic society to ensure the growth of a media tradition that understands the pulse of the people.

When we look at the present government, it appears that some incidents take place without the knowledge of responsible authorities of the government. The invasion of the state television station by a government minister is one example. It was clear that a small incident developed into a situation that was unfavorable to the government.

Although many recent incidents have taken place with the involvement of some people, they had resulted in the government being placed in an unfavorable situation before the people. A situation that will warrant the intervention of the President into each small incident should be avoided. It seems that there are responsible and experienced ministers within the present cabinet.

Therefore, if defense authorities have suspicions about journalist Tissanayagam, they should investigate the facts in a clear manner and take up the matter in courts.

It is not proper, particularly in the present context, that the government continues to keep him in prolonged detention.

Therefore, if no court proceedings are initiated, I call on relevant authorities to release him soon.

Ven. Baddegama Samitha Thero
Ex Member of Parliament
Member of the Baddegama Pradeshiya SabhA
Polibureau Member poliburea, Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP)

27th June 2008

Colombo High Court convicts journalist JS Tissanayagam under prevntion of Terrorism Act, sentences to 20 years rigorous imprisonment