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Please pardon Tissainayagam Mr. President

"Tissainayagam worked with Mahinda Rajapaksha on human rights abuses of the UNP terror regime of the late 80s. Then MR should remember Tissainayagam and his disposition. Do we need a better judge? Please pardon Tissainayagam Mr. President."

By Helasingha Bandara

(September 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A Colombo court found Tissainayagam guilty of inciting communal violence with his writing and sentenced him to 20 years rigorous imprisonment. Despite what the judge believed as a fit punishment for Tissainayagam’s alleged crime the people world over would say the punishment is extremely disproportionate to the alleged crime. He has been found guilty for expressing his views in the print media. By the way, he was a journalist. What can be expected of him other than expressing his views?

Are we telling the world that we do not give a toss about what other people think about our actions? Well of course the world can do very little if we decide to ignore their perceptions, views and possible threats. Nevertheless, what about the shame that we cause upon ourselves by being uncivil? How can our leaders travel around the world and face other leaders? Perhaps they need to fall into the category of fools who rush in where angles fear to tread.

The case of Tissa has made headlines all over the world. The most powerful person on earth has specifically mentioned Tissainayagam in relation to media freedom. The supporters of the government have pointed out that the Tissainayagam case is a minefield for the government and Tissa was just an anchovy among the big fish. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a prominent politician, has vouched for Tissa’s character. Many prominent persons who have known Tissa had expressed that he was not a violent person. Many friends of Tissa from all communities, especially from the Sinhalese community, have talked about Tissa’s non-racial attitude on people and of his good conduct. Despite all that, he has been given 20 years. He is almost 46 and when he comes out, if he comes out alive, he will be a broken old man of 66. What a waste of a good brain, and for what, supposedly writing some petty anti government stuff. I hope some authority would publish his so called anti government writing and compare with what others have written.

Not many people would grudge Karuna’s and Pillayan's political positions as long as they have renounced violence. However, the harsh verdict on Tissa who had never been involved in any form of violence would invariably remind people of the massacres of the little bikkhus of Aranthalawa and the execution of 600 surrendered unarmed policemen for which Karunas and Pillayans stand accused of. Douglas Peiris was given five years for abduction and murder. Some politician’s wife received Presidential pardon while serving a life sentence. In this backdrop, it is hard for people to resist the temptation to compare Tissa’s sentence and conclude it is harsh, too harsh.

We all have tried to defend the GOSL for its good deeds and achievements while failing miserably to whitewash our human rights record. Should we fall further into the black hole or should we come out of it? The Europeans unsuccessfully attempted to indict Sri Lanka for war Crimes. Should we let them pursue that again with new evidence and renewed vigour? These are all food for thought.

Finally, it is said that Tissainayagam worked with Mahinda Rajapaksha on human rights abuses of the UNP terror regime of the late 80s. Then MR should remember Tissainayagam and his disposition. Do we need a better judge? Please pardon Tissainayagam Mr. President. That would be good for Tissa and his family, for the country and for all of us.
-Sri Lanka Guardian


Anonymous said...

Please Pardon Tissa, he never used weapons..

Adelene said...

Our prayers and support for Tissa would continue.

tmorgan said...

Tissainayagam, as it transpired in his trial, assisted Mahinda Rajapaksa in the late 1980’s to translate documents regarding disappearances of the time, was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for writing a small article on similar matters. The difference of treatment of Tissainayagam then and now explain quite a lot about the sinister politics in Sri Lanka.

In the late 1980s, Mahinda Rajapaksha cleverly used the popular anger against the existing government which caused over 30,000 disappearances and many other forms of violence. There was also international condemnation of these matters. However, the manner in which this situation was handled by Rajapaksha in Sri Lanka was very different to similar issues of disappearances, torture and extrajudicial killings handled in countries like Argentina and Chile. In those countries, meticulous documentation was made and evidence preserved of the cases of the disappeared, and for many years to follow there were huge demands for the prosecution of offenders. That struggle for justice made significant changes in these countries, which later brought about improvements which would make the happening of similar occurrences difficult.

Not so in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksha did not fight for justice for the disappeared and their families. He never called for prosecution of those offenders. The Mother’s Front and others who rallied with him were thoroughly disappointed, and many members of those organizations still suffer alone and they don’t get an audience from their former advocate. One of the leaders of the Mother’s Front was a lady doctor who was the mother of Richard Soysa, a young journalist and a popular personality, who was also a victim of the violence of the time. She died years later in total isolation and in sheer disgust of the treachery of the people who betrayed the movements against disappearances.

In these matters, talking about personalities does not mean much. What the Executive Presidents JR Jaywardene and Premadasa did is continued to be done by the present Executive President. If there were to be someone else as the Executive President, having the same absolute power and total protection against any kind of liability, he or she would also do the same. Mahinda Rajapaksha promised officially to change the Executive Presidency and to bring about a more accountable government witch checks and balances against the Executive. This he failed to do and by now any possibility of him doing that does not exist.

The real political tragedy of Sri Lanka is that while everybody agrees that the system of Executive Presidency is creating one monster after another, who destroy all institutions and the foundations of all freedoms, there is no political will to abolish this system.
- brandysquire.livejournal.com

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