Global Day of Action for Sri Lankan Journalist

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Next  Tuesday, August 10, will be the 200th day since the Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda went missing after work.  Amnesty International and other organizations have been calling on the Sri Lankan government to investigate his disappearance.  In Sri Lanka, the Alliance of Media Organizations (Alliance) will mark this day by holding a protest and a seminar.  The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is asking its affiliates to support the protest by contacting Sri Lankan embassies around the world on Tuesday to express concern over his disappearance.

Amnesty supports these actions by the Alliance and IFJ.  Please join in this day of action by doing the following on Tuesday, August 10:

1. Send an online letter to the Sri Lankan government asking them to effectively investigate Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance, make the results public and hold accountable those responsible for his disappearance.

2. Call the Sri Lankan embassy in your country and express concern about his disappearance (in the U.S., the Sri Lankan Embassy‘s phone number is 202-483-4025).

It’s long past time for the Sri Lankan government to provide justice for him and his family.  With your help, we may see it happen.

Six months later, no sign of missing cartoonist

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On Mar. 11, I wrote on this site about Prageeth Eknaligoda, the Sri Lankan journalist and cartoonist.  He’s been missing since leaving work on Jan. 24.  Amnesty Interrnational and other organizations (like the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders) have all expressed concern and have called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate his disappearance.

Well, it’s been six months since he disappeared and we haven’t seen any evidence of an effective investigation so far.  His wife, Sandhya Eknaligoda, has repeatedly said she holds the government responsible.  This past Saturday, she reportedly went to a famous Hindu temple and prayed for help in finding her husband, having lost faith in the Sri Lankan legal process.

The Sri Lankan government needs to live up to its responsibility here.  Please write to the government and ask that it conduct a proper, effective investigation into his disappearance and hold accountable those found responsible.  Thanks.

20-year sentence for Sri Lankan journalist

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I was shocked this morning when I heard the news that J.S. Tissainayagam, the detained Sri Lankan journalist, was sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment by the Sri Lankan High Court.  Tissainayagam has been detained for the last 18 months and was tried under Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act for writing two magazine articles in 2006 critical of the government’s conduct of the war against the opposition Tamil Tigers.  Amnesty International considers Tissainayagam to be a prisoner of conscience, detained and prosecuted solely for his legitimate work as a journalist, and has been calling for his immediate, unconditional release.

Tissainayagam was one of the journalists singled out for praise by President Obama this past May in his statement in honor of World Press Freedom Day.

Organizations working in defense of press freedom reacted strongly to today’s sentence.  The International Federation of Journalists condemned the sentence, calling it “brutal and inhumane.”  The Committee to Protect Journalists announced today that it will honor Tissainayagam with a 2009 International Press Freedom Award.  The group Reporters Without Borders said it was “appalled” by the “shameful” sentence; the group also announced today that Tissainayagam had been selected as the first winner of the newly created Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.

Please write to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ask that J.S. Tissainayagam be released immediately and unconditionally. Thanks for any help you can give.