The picturesque Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka witnessed a blatant attack on the freedom of media, when the Colombo High Court sentenced the country's noted journalist J.S. Tissainayagam to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.
So what is his fault? Well, there are two. Firstly, this Tamil columnist has been found guilty of threatening country's ethnic harmony, as he has written two articles which the Court has found to be detrimental for the same. Secondly, (this is highly controversial) he has reportedly confessed to (in custody, to be precise) raising funds for supporting terrorist activities.
However, what the media fraternity feels (rather, it is sanguine) that all the charges brought against Tissainayagam are pure absurd. Actually he has highlighted the harassment of innocent Tamils of Sri Lanka in the hands of the government agencies, and has criticized the government for the same. And it is this "audacity" that the Sri Lankan government has been unable to digest.
The media fraternity also feels that by getting Tissainayagam imprisoned the Sri Lankan government has also tried to intimidate the other journalists, so that they do not dare to criticize the government on any issues.
We all appreciated the Rajapakshe government's ruthless campaign against LTTE terrorists, who had become a cancer for the beautiful island nation. However, the government is well advised not to show the same ruthlessness against the freedom of expression. The government must realize that it is responsible for providing the Sri Lankan people with a civilized society, and no society can be termed civilized if it lacks freedom of expression, which is one of the pillars of the same.
We all hope that better sense will prevail, and Tissainayagam will be freed as soon as possible. Let's hope for the best.