Sri Lanka politics and commentary

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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Lying Racist

"A lying racist", is what African American politicians call Mr. Bobby DeLaughter, the Mississippi prosecutor who prosecuted Mr. Byron De La Beckwith a former Klan member for the murder of civili rights activist Medgar Evers. But Mr DeLaughter was not lying nor was he a racist, he managed to secure a conviction of a white man for the murder of a black leader, which the state of Missipii failed to do for several decades.

J. S. Tissainayagam the "journalist" who was sentence for inciting communal violence , has provided an interview for "Reporters Without Borders" (RSF), and the term used to initially describe Mr DeLaughter came to my mind.

In December of 2006 Mr. Tissainayagam writes in his "North Eastern Monthly" " Such offensives against the civilians are accompanied by attempts to starve the population by refusing them food as well as medicines and fuel, with the hope of driving out the people of Vaharai and depopulating it."

When the army secured Vakarai in January of 2007 they found stock piles of medicines in the Vaharai hospital and sacks of rice being used to reinforce LTTE bunkers.

The deputy chairman of the Human Rights Council called as a witness by the defense lawyers of Mr. Tissainayagam in his defense stated that " he had been visiting the Vakarai area and meeting the divisional secretary for the area and that the World Food Programmer had been distributing food through this divisional secretary and that there were government hospitals and governments doctors even though it was an LTTE controlled area in 2006". So the defense attorneys themselves have proven that Mr. Tissainayagam has lied. When shown what Tissanayagam had written about Vakarai, this defense witness had agreed that the statements were indeed incendiary.

Incarcerating journalist for not abiding by the law is not unheard of. In 2005 New York Times journalist Judith Miller was sentence to Jail for refusing to testify in a grad jury investigation. Many other examples can be provided.

Journalists should use their privileges responsibly and above all truthfully, it has been several years since it was revealed that Mr. Tissainayagam lied about the situation in Vakarai , but he is yet to issue an apology to the public. Mr. Tissainayagam's writing, as his own defense witness accepted, clearly and indubitably, had the tendency to stir racial tension and violence. It is the responsibility of the governmnet to secure peace and harmony in the country, where possible when a war was raging.

Mr. Tissainayagam received the Peter Mackler Award for journalistic courage and integrity in October 2009. The hypocrisy and hidden agenda of these awards have been reviews elsewhere.
Many Sri Lankans are distrustful of NGOs and INGOs, and with good reason. It is clear to any laymen that Mr. Tissainayagam was factually incorrect in his reporting and would have incited racial violence. Yet in this interview with RSF, the interviewer fails to question Mr. Tissainayagam about the factuality of his writings.
The NGOs and INGOs failure to acknowledge the true facts and their rewarding of irresponsible behavior adds to the public mistrust of those organizations.

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