by Jim McDonald
On May 4, I wrote on this site about the Sri Lankan government’s announced pardon of the journalist J.S. Tissainayagam (often referred to as “Tissa”), who’d been unjustly convicted and sentenced to 20 years’ hard labor just for criticizing the government’s conduct of the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels.
Amnesty International has adopted Tissa as a “prisoner of conscience” since we believe that he was imprisoned solely for his journalistic activities. I was reluctant to start celebrating until details of the pardon had been clarified.
Well, it’s now been 37 days since the announcement of the pardon, and the government still hasn’t issued it! The Sri Lankan Attorney General said in mid-May that Tissa’s lawyers had to withdraw his appeal against his conviction, and then the pardon could be issued in a “couple of days.” His lawyers reportedly withdrew his appeal on May 31 but the pardon has still not been issued.
Why all the delay? Please write the Sri Lankan government and ask that the granting of the pardon be expedited. Let the government know that the world is still watching and that we won’t rest until Tissa’s rights are fully restored. Thanks
Jim McDonald is the Sri Lanka country specialist for Amnesty International USA.