ibnlive » World

Sep 02, 2009 at 02:20pm IST

Human rights activists rally for SL journno

New Delhi: Human rights activists continue to rally for senior journalist J S Tissainayagam who was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for criticising the government.

Putting back focus yet again on how dangerous a place Sri Lanka has become for journalists. The Colombo High Court sentenced Tissainayagam under the country's stringent anti-terror law.

Tissainayagam's crime was that he raised money to fund terror activities by the LTTE, a confession extracted from him while in police custody. He was also convicted of authoring two articles, which the prosecution claimed would cause ill-will among ethnic communities.

The articles published in 2008 only accused the government of being unable to defend its citizens. Human rights activists say Tissanayagam's case underlines the ease with which the Sri Lankan government has strangled media freedom.

"Sri Lanka is the most dangerous place for journalists in the world. There have been large number of disappearances, and intimidation of journalists. Also, extraditiol executions along with murders of journalists," said Director, SAHDRC, Ravi Nair.

Today Sri Lanka is regarded as among the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. 11 journalists have died in mysterious circumstances since 2006. The celebrated Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickeramatunga wrote his own obituary before being murdered in the streets of Colombo.

"The South-Asian community as well as large sections of the international community has allowed themselves to be deluded by what one would call a willing suspension of disbelief as to how an allegedly democratically re-elected government has gone a path of a very authoritarian way to deal with all kinds of descent," Nair.

Sadly Wickeramatunga's killing doesn't seem to have altered government attitudes. An inquiry into his killing is getting nowhere and journalists are paying the price in terms of freedom and their lives.