Publisher Released; Journalist Remains Imprisoned
International PEN welcomes the release of Tamil publisher Vetrivel Jasikaran and his wife Vadivel Valarmathy on October 26, 2009, after being held for 19 months. Their detention was linked to that of journalist Jayaprakash Sittampalam (J. S.) Tissainayagam, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for his critical writings. PEN reiterates its demand for J. S. Tissainayagam’s immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
According to PEN’s information, Tamil publisher Vetrivel Jasikaran, who owns the E-Kwality Printing Works and is a journalist for the news web site Outreach Sri Lanka, and his wife Vadivel Valarmathy were released on October 26, 2009, after the State Prosecutor announced that there was no evidence to support the charge that the couple had links with terrorist acts or organizations. The couple was arrested on March 6, 2008, by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in Colombo, and were held under the Emergency Regulations (ER) for allegedly aiding and abetting Tamil journalist and Outreach Sri Lanka editor J. S. Tissainayagam in his activities.
The three remained in detention for five months without charges. There were allegations of police ill-treatment against them during that period. Initial reports suggested that both journalists were accused of receiving money from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) rebel group; however it is widely believed that they were targeted for their reporting and analysis on the conflict between government forces and the LTTE in the northern part of the country.
On August 31, 2009, a High Court in Sri Lanka sentenced J. S. Tissainayagam to 20 years’ imprisonment with hard labor under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for “causing communal disharmony” in his articles published in 2006 by the magazine North-Eastern Monthly. He was also found guilty of raising funds to publish the magazine. A confession made by Tissainayagam while in police custody and allegedly forced under torture was used as evidence to convict him. His sentence is currently under appeal.
Write A Letter
- Welcoming the release of Vetrivel Jasikaran and his wife Vadivel Valarmathy;
- Calling for J. S. Tissainayagam’s immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Fax: +94 11 2446657
Hon. Amarasiri Dodangoda
Minister of Justice and Law Reforms
Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms
Superior Courts Complex,
Fax: +94 11 2445447
H. M. G. S. Palihakkara
Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
630 Third Avenue, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 986-1838
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Sri Lanka in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after December 30, 2009: ftw [at] pen.org