President Obama Speaks Out on Behalf of Sri Lanka Journalist
May 3rd, 2009
President Obama supported detained journalist J.S. Tissainayagam in Sri Lanka in his May 1st speech on World Press Freedom Day. He spoke of those “…who face intimidation, censorship, and arbitrary arrest – [who are] guilty of nothing more than a passion for truth and a tenacious belief that a free society depends on an informed citizenry.”
Mr. Tissainaygam has been held for over a year, on charges that are widely believed to be without substance.
Arrested in March of 2008, Tissa – as he is known – was formally indicted in August under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations. When he was detained, he was the editor of a news Web site OutreachSL. But he is being held for articles he wrote in the North Eastern Monthly in 2006 and 2007–two years before he was grabbed.
His arrest needs to be seen in the context of the continuing harassment and killings of journalists who question the government’s treatment of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka and its prosecution of the war against the LTTE.