Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Country, Another Journalist, Another Jail Cell

A Sri Lankan court has sentenced Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years in prison because he "criticized the government's conduct and accused authorities of withholding food and other essential items from Tamil-majority areas as a tool of war."

The government of Sri Lanka claims that although “the constitution guarantees media freedom, but no one has a right to deliberately publish false reports that would lead to communal violence.” All the while Mr Tissainayagam's defence lawyer upholds that the journalist has been a tireless fighter for Human Rights and has been jailed for simply doing his job.

Both Amnesty International and US President Obama seem to agree, as they have both singled out this reporter as an example of journalists being jailed for simply doing their jobs. Amnesty International also states that 14 journalists and media workers have been killed since 2006 and that 11 journalists were forced to flee the country since the end of the 25 year civil war in May of this year.

I don't really know what to add exactly to all this, I mean how many times can one speak of anger and outrage and shock at situations like these? God knows I've written about prisoners of conscience over and over again on this blog and I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads this agrees with me that it is wrong. The good part in all this is that being Canadian, I have never had to worry about being jailed for expressing my opinions and I've never had to watch over my shoulder for fear government assassins were following me around.

So my heart goes out, again, to all those who are jailed for expressing their thoughts, their opinions and all those who fight for the rights of others despite the possibility of losing the very rights they are fighting for.

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