Colombo, Human Rights, Media and Communications, Politics and Governance

The Case of Tissainayagam: Who is on Trial?

J.S. Tissainayagam, who had been under detention since March 7- 2009, was convicted on all three charges under the Prevention of Terrorism Act  (PTA) on August 31- 2009 by the High Court of Colombo, and given the maximum sentence of 20 years rigorous incarceration. In a symbolic and focal sense, what has been tried and imprisoned is the Tamil nation, and all those who stand for its right of self-determination. Journalist Tissainayagam stood for the right of self-determination and for the security of the Tamil nation, and it is this fundamental right that has been tried and suppressed in such a severe manner. Tissainayagam allegedly confesses that he maintained some dialogue with the LTTE and that he did write and publish the articles for which he was convicted. These articles, as alleged by the state, purportedly had the intention and the effect of fuelling communal violence. In that case, every member of every successive neo-colonial government, including the Opposition,  would have to be put away for  20 years, for the crime of sabotaging any possible political solution and inciting communal violence! In my opinion, the court simply failed to establish this accusation, beyond any reasonable doubt. There is no evidence to prove that these articles had incited communal violence. Evidently, only 50 copies of this journal had been sold. The fact is that the PTA has been designed to allow for such subjective and arbitrary interpretation. My opinion, and that of all enlightened progressive people, is that Tissa never intended to provoke communal violence. That is not his nature or political agenda. He simply took a stand on behalf of the right of national self-determination of the Tamil people and highlighted  the crisis of human security and human rights faced by the Tamil people.

Are we to deny that there was no such crisis, when there was incessant bombing of Tamil populated areas and selected assassination of individuals, including eminent political representatives such as Hon. Joseph Pararajasingham and Hon. Raviraj? Now, if we are to argue that no such crisis existed, and that, as the regime has claimed that this war has been waged with a policy of zero civilian causalities, then I say that this is an exercise in crass self-deception. The whole world knows that the war created a colossal humanitarian catastrophe for hundreds of thousand Tamil civilians, and that both the LTTE and the State engaged in massacre of civilians. Leading representatives of the regime have publicly boasted that ‘ you cannot defeat terrorism, without resort to terrorism’. Even now, it is reported that the security of those who are kept in detention in barb-wired concentration camps face a threat of human security and gross violations  of human rights.

Is it treachery to stand for the independence, freedom and security of an oppressed nation, which they feel is under military subjugation and suppression? Is it a crime to feel anguished and cry out for justice in the face of wanton, wholesale violation of human security and basic human rights? Even in the United States, the No 01 imperialist-terrorist super power, the media and civilian lobbies openly and constitutionally advocate for the truth and for justice against the horrible human rights violations committed in Abu Graib and Guantanamo and on the battlefields of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, and against its own people. Even though there exists the draconian Patriotic Act- much like the PTA- there the masses still enjoy the right to protest and resist any form of imperialist military aggression or any other violation of human rights. Besides, to refer to the crimes against humanity committed by the US and the NATO in Iraq and Afghanistan as a means of justifying the same here, expresses a twisted logic. Whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, or in Vakarai, Mullaitivu or Sampur, such terrorist crimes against the people are to be condemned. Here, in Paradise, anyone who resists and opposes the political agenda of the regime is hunted and hounded as a terrorist and a traitor. Well, who is a traitor to some is a patriot to another. Who is a terrorist to some is a freedom fighter for another. Depends on where you stand at the barricades.

If we are to imprison people for cavorting with the LTTE, then none other than Hon. Basil Rajapakse, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera and the late  Hon. Sripathi Sooriaratchi – all part of the top leadership of the People’s Alliance government at the time- could be the first to take the hike for 20 years. All these three individuals had allegedly entered into a secret conspiracy with the LTTE, on behalf of Presidential candidate  Mahinda Rajapakse,  to prevail upon the LTTE to ensure a boycott of the Presidential elections by the Tamil people of the North-East, in order to ensure his electoral victory. Taking this legal logic further, the entire People’s Alliance regime could be jailed for 20 years for this type of duplicity and conspiracy. This whole issue was publicly debated in Parliament, only to be effectively sabotaged and suppressed. Now, I may be taken to court and sentenced to 20 years on the argument that none of these allegations have been proven in a court of law. Or, I could be made to be killed in a motor accident, or be abducted by a white van. As a citizen, I can say, please file a case in court, or appoint an independent commission of inquiry, and let the public know the truth of the case. Then, what about the conscious, planned and deliberate provocations to incite communal violence as in the case of Bindinuwewa, Maligawatte, Kandapola, those who attacked and torched churches and so on and on? Has any one being sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment? What about the statements by Sarath Fonseka and Champika Ranawaka, at the height of the war, to the effect that this is the exclusive homeland of the Sinhala-Buddhist nation and all others are alien minorities who live here by default? Would this ideology and politics not inflame passions and incite communal violence? This is the putrid Comprador bourgeois ruling class ideology and politics that has provoked communal violence beyond anything anyone can even imagine. Why do we not even think of sentencing Cyril Matthew and J.R. Jayawardene- and others-  for fermenting communal violence on a horribly brutal scale? What about Black July, and the wholesale rigging of the cosmetic DDC elections and the burning of the Jaffna library- a form of cultural genocide against a nation? Who is to be sentenced for such abominable crimes, and yes, treachery?  What about the massacre of 17 humanitarian workers, of five Tamil students, of the series of abductions, extra-judicial killings, extortion and torture? These bestial violations have the potential to incite communal passions, breed hatred and distrust among the people. They serve to fuel the politics of separatism. So then, who is on trial? Now, when Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama pronounces in Parliament that challenging the verdict by the District court may be in disrespect of the rule of Law, he is presenting a threat to all of us. Let it be known that we shall not be intimidated  by these types of threats. And also, we shall tell him to read the Constitution, to which he is also subject.

As the repository of the people’s mandate, the state and as the regime in power, are constitutionally obligated to prosecute and reveal the truth to the people. In law, the state, including the legislature, executive and the judiciary, and all other bureaucratic appendages of the state, are there to execute the will and sovereignty of the people and to ensure their freedom and human security. These institutions, even according to bourgeois democratic theory, exist to protect, serve and enshrine the supreme sovereignty of the people. Yet, at present, there are close to 300,000 Tamil citizens who are being detained and fenced in barb-wired concentration camps simply for the crime of being Tamil, and inhumanely victimized for being deliberately manipulated by both sides to be trapped in the crossfire of a brutal war. These are the pitiless consequences of seeking a military solution. The military solution has simply nurtured the aspiration for a separate state as never before. The seeds will be replanted, only that much more firmly and on fertile soil by the generations to come. So, the question of who stands for the unity, integrity, equality and dignity of the nations and communities of Sri Lanka remains to be adjudicated. The question of who stands for truth and justice remains to be adjudicated.. The question of who are the real patriots who truly love their country and the people of Lanka, and stand for their unity, independence, dignity and freedom is to be decided. The question of “Who is On Trial” remains to be adjudicated. As it is, there are some 25,000 political prisoners, added to nearly 300,000 detainees. This is an intolerable violation of human and democratic rights. Believe me, the people will have their day, and they will file their suit against all imposters, gangsters and murderers, and history will deliver its verdict. For now, the People’s Tribunal is in formation. That is one of the supreme  tasks and responsibilities of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Democracy to hold the state accountable for its crimes against democracy and humanity. This is the political essence and the historic challenge presented by the Tissainayagam Case.

The Case of Tissainayagam is a concentration of the systematic, gross and intensifying discrimination, political repression and armed suppression of the oppressed Tamil nation carried out deliberately by the Sinhala chauvinist, hegemonic, Comprador Capitalist unitary state, executed by every successive government and brought to a culmination by the present Mahinda Chintanaya regime. All those who stand for the national-democratic rights of the Tamil nation, and thereby, for truth and justice, and for the unity, integrity, independence and sovereignty of the country, and all those who stand for freedom and democracy, should take up the struggle to free Tissa, to free the Tamil nation and to free the people of our beloved Lanka from the political agenda of the putrid and parasitic Comprador state.

The war is said to be won. There have been victory parades to establish this fact. President Mahinda Rajapakse is hailed as a new king who has vanquished the alien invaders. Then, what is the need for such revenge against Tissa? Is it not time for forgiveness and reconciliation? What is the real intention of extending the PREVENTION OF TERRORISM ACT-PTA and Emergency regulations, instead of presenting a political solution that recognizes the legitimate status of the Tamil nation? As Lenin analysed, whatever the form, the essence of the Capitalist state is that it represents the terrorist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The PTA and Emergency regulations serve merely to legitimize the terrorism of the state against the people. The case against Tissa and his abominable rigorous imprisonment for 20 years reveals the essence of the political agenda of the state and the regime. This agenda consists of liquidating Tamil nationhood, establishing the undisputed hegemony of the Sinhala-Buddhist theocratic unitary state, dismantling the Tamil homelands by colonization and militarization of the entire region and selling this land to multi-national corporations for fat commissions and profits, continue and multiply corruption and abuse, and to instill terror on any one who would dare to oppose and resist. So Tissa is paying the price for all of us. It is in this historic moment that we have joined together in struggle as the People’s Movement for Freedom and Democracy. We shall honor those who have dared to stand for truth and justice, along with Tissainayagam and thousands of other freedom fighters who pay the price for the cause of human liberation.

  • Leon

    Well said Mr Rupasinghe.Let us hope that more and more people will think and act the way you do. I am so glad there are still persons like you in Sri Lanka who are prepared to stand and fight for what is right.

  • The truth of sri lanka is bitter than any other country, dafur could be bit worst but at least it is visible but Sri Lankan crisis against humanity is being still covered. Tissanayagam, Lasantha or others whom stand up for finding the truth have been annihilated forever…… Daya master who who media spokmen to LTTE and who spoke to the whole world justfying activities of LTTE and critizising government has not been investigated by terrorisem prevention act…but a journelist like tissanayagam has been sentenced to maximum provision of it…..A true terrorist like Karuna Amman ( I really appriciate he is in politics) is a minister today, so why tissanayagam……?????????………if Fonseka will be against the government one day he will be arrested under terrorist prevention act…this government is governing this country in that way….As Mahinda said there are two groups in sri lanak, it is true…..there are only two groups in sri lanka…..ONE GROUP WHO APPRICIATE ALL THE CRIMES AND DIRTY POLITICS OF THIS GOVERNMENT WHO LOVE TO COUNTRY ACCORDING TO MAHINDA AND WHO AGAINST THE CRISIS AGAINST HUMANITY WHO DISTROY THIS COUNTRY ACCORDING TO HIM…..?

  • nandasena

    Thank you Mr. Rupasinghe. It gives some hope when you realise that there are people like you to give voice for the voiceless!!! Hope a lot of people will haave the courage to come forward and call for justice!!!

  • In word part of Srilanka is a homeland to Tamils. In every public addressing , Srilanka is a motherland to Mahinda Rajapakse. Until these non sensual words fade away from the Srilankan political vocabulary there will be no peace in Srilanka. The real peace ‘ll dawn on the day when we, Sinhalese and Tamils, learn to say that this is our country.

  • Saro

    Up until now or if the Sri Lankan state manage to hoodwink the Obama administration as well and avoid investigations of war crimes and human rights abuses the chauvinist leaders are a law unto themselves and have a blank cheque to do whatever to the minorities especially Tamils. The UN and other international community did not come forward to stop the massacre of Tamils who were chased from their own homes and contained within a narrow strip to starve and bomb at the will of the Sinhalese chauvinists.

  • Ram Mohan

    It is not Rajapakses alone, nor the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists alone but 20 governments of the world were responsible to the defeat of the LTTE and the plight of the entire population of the war zone being imprisoned in the concentration camps. In fact India decided in 2005 that LTTE should be finished. Not only this war but Afghanistan war, Iraq war and all such wars are fought by powerful coalition of oppressors of the people and that is not surprising in the globalised world. It is only the oppressed who are not united. For India the war against Tamils was only a “field trial” in Eelam to be practised in its oppression of its own people in the name of fighting Maoist Rebels. But that will bring the whole sub continent under boil as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka are already boiling. Arunthathy Roy expexts US to walk into India and the signs are that India will fragment and with that the peoples of the entire sub continent will be liberated. There is not much time left for the oppressed peoples of the sub continent to forge the organisational unity for which the Maoists of India will give the leadership.

  • Canaga

    Well written and aspects made obvious.

    It is political racism that has brought the beutiful and peace loving communities of the island to this tragedy.

    Has anyone thought how and why an opportunity arose for the formation of a very bad organisation like LTTE?

    It was the failure of peaceful politics of the Tamils for nearly twenty years. The Tamil politicians gave up in sadness, and the “Boys” took up arms with the formation of LTTE and others. Same situation as IRA, South Africa, Palestinians and so on. It was a very bad and sad ending of Tamil politics.

    Just think of the attrocities committed by state sponsored terrorism – burning of the Jaffna library, 1983 brutal killing and destruction of properties of the Tamils, etc. Has LTTE committed any atrocity of this magnitude???

  • Huh

    Canaga, you cannot be serious? Have you forgotten how the LTTE chased all the muslims and sinhalese people from their homes in the north? That is far worse than any burning of a library.of course, this does NOT diminish the seriousness of burning of the jaffna library. But lets not forget how ancient buddhist monuments were being destroyed in the north/east even before the Jaffna library was burned down. The LTTE arose for many reasons–we all know Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism was one of the reasons. But other reasons they rose, that supporters of Tamil Eelam conveniently forget to mention, have to do with the Tamil caste system and other repressive issues within the Tamil community. Sinhalese Chauvinism was NOT the only cause of the LTTE’s formation. People also forget how those ” peaceful” Tamil politicians who protested in the late 50’s against supposedly discriminatory language laws were actually protesting because english was being replaced as the official language–no english usage for them=no more power. People should stop observing history with a black/white lense and realize that there are many more shades of grey if you just read/look.

  • Ram Mohan

    People like you never like to learn. You want to continue to condemn LTTE although you are claiming to have killed it. You along with other chauvinists will be a continuous reminder for the next uprising. But be sure the next uprising will learn from all the past mistakes and more importantly the Maoists of India will ensure that India does not join you. Together we will liberate the whole sub continent including you if you give up your prejudices.

  • Huh

    Ram, when did I say anything that was chauvinistic? That is the thing–Eelamists or pro-seperatists can say anything in the international community and get tears, sympathy and immediate gratification/approval/understanding from them(ie. if Tamils claim that they had a homeland in sri lanka at one point, all western liberals will immediately believe them–this, therefore means the politicians who represent them must be poor, guiltless victims who do nothing wrong. But when Sinhalese replaces English, a language spoken by less than 5% of the population at the time, that is chauvinistic and racist). I did NOT deny that Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism was a cause of LTTE, if you bother to read my statement carefully. I said there were other factors WITHIN the tamil culture, like its caste system–widely known to be much more oppressive than the Sinhalese one–that also led to the LTTE’s formation. Don’t get me wrong–I agree with you that ending this war militarily is not a good way to end things. It certainly does not give peace to the tamil people or the muslims or any poor Sinhalese or any other minority/disadvantaged groups. To make sure that there are no more uprisings, we need to make sure Sri Lanka prospers economically, and becomes more democratic and better implement tamil as an official language. However, BOTH Tamils and southern Sinhalese need to realize that they are not the ONLY people on the island. They need to realize that they BOTH did things wrongs and need to own up to them. Foolish Sinhalese chauvinists need to realize that it is pointless to focus on their ” buddhist-aryan” identity when the world is becoming globalized and nobody outisde of SL really gives two shits about the legacy of vijya(or something along those lines). Tamils of the north need to realize that they are no longer in the same position as they were during british rule when they were privileged and they are in fact a minority and they, like the majority Sinhalese, have contributed significantly to the decline we see in SL. Hopefully, in the future, BOTH sides will be willing to hold themselves accountable for their actions. Hopefully, people who just use common sense will see how people like you are just as foolish and far-sighted as the Sinhalese chauvinists who clamor on and on about their glorified past.

  • Surendra

    I appreciate the positive comments on my article titled ” The Case of Tissainayagam: Who is on Trial”. We – the People’s Movement for Freedom and Democracy- held a public seminar calling for the release of Tissainayagam on the 12th November. We intend to take this campaign to the district level.
    Yesterday, it was reported that Tamil prisoners had been attacked by Sinhala prisoners with knives. Fifteen had been wounded, and one seriously wounded and admitted to hospital. Put this in line with the brutal daylight slaughter of a Tamil youth of unsound mind by two policemen in Bambalapitiya. Are we sliding into barbarism? Or, is it that we are unable to overcome the culture of barbarism that has overtaken us all. All of us who cherish this land and love our people, and who cherish freedom and humanity, must unite to demand he release of Tissainayagam, since what has been sentenced for 20 years is Justice, Freedom and Democracy itself. Standing for the national-democratic rights of the Tamil NATION, when it being systematically dismantled and liquidated militarily, politically and ideologically, is a pre-condition for standing for the human and democratic ights of all oppressed nationalities and communities, including the Hill Country Tamil nationality and Moslem nationality- and indeed for the oppressed Sinhala masses. It is a precondition for building the revolutionary struggle to overcome the feudal – colonial state and political order and replacing that with a genuine people’s democratic state, embodying the unity and integrity of the nations, nationalities and ethnic-religious communities, and for achieivng genuine national independence and democracy.

    Ceylon Communist Party ( Maoist)