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Ambassador Aryasinha misleads EU on Tissainayagam, LTTE and Al-Qaeda

by Premila Canagaratna

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Brussels Ravinath Aryasinha, last week told the Human Rights Sub Committee of the European Parliament there that he wondered “whether journalists in Europe accepting a cheque from al-Qaeda would be acceptable.”

Aryasinha said the committee members sought to give the impression that Tissainayagam, sentenced to 20 years in jail for links with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), was convicted by the Colombo High Court for writing two articles, while ignoring the more serious charges of accepting funds from the LTTE, a proscribed terrorist organisation in a number of countries.

In this light I think it is good for us to examine the facts of the case.

First, let us look at the charges read out to Tissainayagam on August 25, 2008 in the High Court. In summary they were;

1) Under the PTA Section 2(2)(ii) Article read with 2(1)(h), conspiring with unknown persons to incite violence and communal disharmony and bringing the government into disrepute through the publication of the North Eastern Monthly during the period of 1st June 2006 and 1st June 2007.

2) During the same period - writing with the intention of causing ethnic violence and bringing the government into disrepute.

3) Under the Emergency Regulations of December 2006 - collecting funds from Non Governmental Organisations for specified terrorist activities, i.e. to print and publish the North Eastern Monthly.

On September 9, 2008 these charges were amended by deleting the words “bringing the government into disrepute” – there being no such offence. The words ‘Non Governmental Organisations’ were also deleted. Therefore basically Tissainayagam was charged with conspiring with unknown persons to incite ethnic violence by writing, and collecting funds to print and publish a magazine. It is on this basis that the court was asked to find Tissainayagam guilty or not guilty.

Given the above charges, the act of terrorism was writing articles that incited ethnic disharmony and the act furthering terrorism was of printing a magazine that carried these inciting articles. Therefore, collecting funds was not the offence. What had to be proved or disproved is that the funds collected were used to print such a magazine that carried inciting articles. The source of the funds was not a relevant question and was in fact not proved.

Given the above, even if it was proved that Tissainayagam received funds from the President’s Fund for the publication of this magazine he would be guilty of the third charge. Tissainayagam never attempted to deny that he collected funds to publish this magazine. He stated that funds were collected in a designated bank account from the subscribers to the magazine (as is the common practice with many magazines, I might add).

In this context it is extremely puzzling as to why Aryasinha asked the EU to look at the “more serious charge” of Tissainayagam collecting money from the LTTE, because there is no such charge. The LTTE is not mentioned in the indictment at all. And a person cannot be found guilty of something he has not been charged with.

Furthermore the prosecution did not provide the court with any material evidence to link the funds flowing into the designated bank account with the LTTE or any other terrorist organisation.

In the event that the Attorney General’s office thought that Tissainayagam was indeed guilty of collecting money from the LTTE they would no doubt have charged him under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act No. 6 of 2006 which was passed for the explicit reason of combating the financing of terrorism.

Therefore Aryasinha would do well to heed the words of President Mahinda Rajapakse — to read the case before commenting on it.

(Premila Canagaratna is an Attorney at Law and a member of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka. She was present in court several times during the Tissainayagam hearings including when the decision was made in High Court.)


Thank you. Thank you. I can't thank you enough.
Lying for decades at the UN has been exacerbating the conflict.
Sri Lankan government has no intention of reversing the trend.

Posted by: punitham | October 11, 2009 10:02 AM

Another Sri Lankan official lying? That shouldn't surprise anyone.

Posted by: Kaz | October 11, 2009 05:29 PM

To accuse of "lying" could be appropriate. But to say "misleading" an institution is humbug. That is an insult to that institution. In this age of Internet and free flow of information no one can mislead another. Everyone can have his/her say. Like a judge and a jury in court of law you listen to reasoning of all sides.

Posted by: Daya | October 11, 2009 09:03 PM

If institutions have been following their rules and regulations the whole world will be totally different. Being run by humans, national and international institutions are run by NUMBER(even the UN has been very ineffective because of a large number of human rights violating members) - if they're right-thinking the situation is OK. If they're not, we have situations like those in Sri Lanka.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 12, 2009 12:07 AM

This lying is not new for the rulers and their agents these have been happining from JR'S through CBK's time but now the difference is it is happning several times more and in full view of international actors and very foolishly exposing Srilanka.

Posted by: smahen | October 13, 2009 04:18 AM

Like Most Tamils, Tissanayagam was a SEPARATIST... he is lucky they did not deal with him the way they did the other PROPAGANDA MOUTHPIECES of the LTTE... he'd be floating face down in some Canal a long time go... Whether we got him for Writing Seditious material or for getting funding from the LTTE...the long and short of it is THAT WE GOT HIM!

Who cares what he was sentenced for? Al Capone was sent to jail for Tax Evasion, not Murder... but the fact remains that Thug Murderer was taken off the Streets of Chicago, He later Died of Syphilis in Prison...GOOD RIDDANCE! Same goes for this LTTE Fiction Writer.

Hopefully this will serve as a Stark WARNING to anyone else who tries this sort of Nonsense in our country in the future.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | October 13, 2009 10:26 PM


Tissanayagam is the victim of false charges under The Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations still operating even after the war ended in the country.

He is the victim of a Show Trial.The regime you are so enamoured of would not have been able to withstand the consequences of a continuing saga of a Richard Soysa.Lasantha,Poddala Jayantha or Taraki and many other journalists, a long list to enumerate here. That explains why poor Tissanayagam did not float down a canal but got clanged up and is afforded State Hospitality at tax payers expense including perhaps that of yours,unless you are not evading payment like Al Capone.

If Tamils in Lanka were SEPARATISTS including Tissanayagam then there is no way the LTTE could have been defeated.The difference between TAMILS & MOST TAMILS is NOT a matter of split hair.So dwell on that.

Posted by: R.S.Ganeshan | October 16, 2009 06:56 AM

Diplomats are there to tell lies and no wonder this humble servant of the state of Sri Lanka lied. This is the way the diplomats are groomed. If he does not do as told he will be recalled as this is the law in a banana republic.

Posted by: Anna | October 16, 2009 12:53 PM

*** Tissanayagam is the victim of false charges ***


FACT: he was caught writing LIES and FICTION about areas which he had never been to and could not verify. He was the man accusing the government of using FOOD and MEDICINE as WEAPONS of WAR... ALL LIES!

FACT: He had received MONEY from the LTTE. This is verified by the deposits in his Bank account and HIS OWN CONFESSION!!!!

This man was a PROPAGANDIST who's only agenda in printing the LIES he concocted was to AID and ABET the ENEMY by getting UN intervention into Sri Lanka and thus block their MILITARY DEFEAT by the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Posted by: Devinda Fernando | October 16, 2009 06:13 PM

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