Friday, December 24, 2010

A Get On The Bus Success Story

One of the actions of the 2010 Get On The Bus event included demonstrating outside the Sri Lankan Mission to the United Nations and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of J.S. Tissainayagam.

J.S. Tissainayagam, or "Tissa," a Sri Lankan journalist, was arbitrarily detained by the police in Colombo on March 7, 2008 and subsequently indicted five months later. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, two articles written by Tissa which criticized the government's conduct in war against the Tamil Tigers, were used to convict and sentence him to 30 years hard labor. In May of 2009, President Barack Obama specified Tissa as an "emblematic example" of the unfortunate truth of mistreatment of journalists.

On August 31, 2009, he was convicted and sentenced to 30 years rigorous imprisonment, but Tissa appealed his conviction. On January 11, 2010, the court granted his request to be released on bail while his appeal was pending. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely in connection with his journalistic activities.

On May 3, 2010, the Sri Lankan government announced that President Rajapaksa had planned to grant him a pardon, but the pardon had not yet been issued. The long-awaited presidential pardon was finally issued in mid-June. J.S. Tissainayagam left Sri Lanka and entered the United States on June 19, 2010. Thanks to those who took action on his behalf.

(Tissa speaking at the 2010 Amnesty International Northeast Regional Conference in November at Boston University.)

You can read about more Get On The Bus success stories and history on the GOTB web site.

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