Tissainayagam: always agitated against violence, fought for justice for oppressed

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 March 2009, 12:16 GMT]
In statement made to the Court Friday, senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam who has been held in detention for more than a year under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), said: "I was and am still an advocate against terrorism. I have criticized terrorism in whatever form. I never advocated violence, my objective was to generate non violent means of resolving the conflict, my research, writings and work was towards achieving this." Many international rights groups have called for the "unconditional release of Tissainayagam, who has been subjected to arbitrary court adjournments and is suffering ill health.” First anniversary of arrest and imprisonment of Tissaianayagam fell on 7th March.

Full text of Tissainayagam's statement to the Court follows:

I wish to commence this statement with a brief introduction about my home.

Journalist Tissainayagam
Journalist Tissainayagam
My father was a government servant for 40 years. He served at the Department of Information and retired as its Director. Later he worked in the Prime Minister's office as an Assistant Secretary and was the speech writer to the Prime Minister. I grew up in an environment of mixed ethnic groups in Colombo. In school too my friends were from all the different ethnic communities of our country. My first language is very much Englishand although I can speak Tamil, I am not very fluent in Tamil. After my high school I entered Peradeniya University and studied in English. There too all my friends were from different ethnic backgrounds.

I joined the Sunday Times in 1987 after university and later have worked as a journalist in a few English language national newspapers. I joined MARGA in 1989 pioneered discussions and engaged in research on how to solve the national issue peacefully.

While I was at Marga and later also, I helped OPFMD (Organisation of Parents and Family Members of the Disappeared ):
  • I helped the families of the disappeared persons from the South due to insurrection by collecting information and translating them into English to send to organisations such as the Amnesty International and the UN.
  • Vasudeva Nanayakkara and HE Mahinda Rajapakshe gave it political leadership and took the documents to Geneva.
  • Was always worried for the safety of the civilians.
  • Intention was to stop the killing of youth, whoever they were.
Although I told all this when questioned at the TID, they never wrote these things down, and even when Razik dictated for me to write down he left all this out.

I spoke up for the employees and as a consequence my services were terminated. I filed an application in the labour Tribunal and was awarded compensation. Although Marga appealed to the High Court, it was dismissed.

1994 to 1995 - I worked on a project for UNICEF through an organization called "The Medium". Went to the East and did a documentary on children left parentless due to the conflict due to activities of the LTTE, JVP, EPRLF, IPKF, State created violence and other paramilitary groups.

This was also left out of all my statements.

Disappearance Commission - 1994 to 96: I helped them in various ways, collected info, translated them into English, helped to coordinate with families. This was also left out of all my statements.

Knowledge of Tamil: I am not fluent in Tamil, my work has always been in English. I can speak Tamil, but am not fluent. For the first time after I left school I was made to write in Tamil when Razik forced me to take down what he dictated. This is what is now claimed to be my confession. I never wrote it on my own and I stand by the evidence I gave at the voir dire.

I was also scared of my eye conditions since I have had surgery for retinal detachment. If it recurred, I would go blind fully. Therefore even when I protested as the factual inaccuracies what is said to be my confession, I wrote it since Razik threatened me and also told me that I would be released soon if I co operated. He said that they had to send it to the Supreme Court.

Charge under the PTA: It is unfair and illegal to charge me under the PTA for acts said to have been committed during the operation of the Ceasefire Agreement when the government had given an undertaking to relax the operation of PTA and allowed the free movement of the people from North and South into both LTTE and government controlled areas.

I travelled to the North and East during the CFA, as a journalist, collected information about life there to include in my writings, interviewed people from a vast spectrum such as political leaders, religious leaders, scholars, the displaced people activists, NGO, LTTE leaders. I personally know that many other journalists also travelled to the North and East during this time for the same purpose. I have also spoken on the telephone many times with persons who lived in those places to obtain information.

A person called Baba never offered me any money I never received money from him or the LTTE.

North Eastern Monthly was run on a commercial basis. It was sold at bookshops like Vijitha Yapa and Makeen Bookshop. There were subscribers too. The Account Number in which to deposit the subscription money was printed in the North Eastern Monthly from the January 2007. Therefore the Account Number was available to anyone who bought the magazine.

I was and am still an advocate against terrorism. I have criticized terrorism in whatever form. I never advocated violence, my objective was to generate non violent means of resolving the conflict, my research, writings and work was towards achieving this.

OPFMD was at one stage involved in securing the release of soldiers and policemen captured by the LTTE. They made contact with the LTTE for this purpose and travelled to the Vanni also. In order to arrange these trips, I have often spoken on the phone in Tamil I could manage with their contact persons. This was also left out of all my statements.

I am a non violent person and always agitated against violence and for justice for the oppressed. By writing the two articles referred to in the indictment, I never intended to cause violence or communal disharmony and no such thing ever occurred as a result of those articles. This is all I have to say.


Chronology:

 

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