For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
Nov 08, Colombo: The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization in the United States created to promote democaracy around the globe has named Sri Lankan Tamil journalist J. S. Tissainayagam as a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow.
During his Reagan-Fascell fellowship from October 2012 – Feb 2013, Tissainayagam, will explore how international forces affect democratization in South Asian countries under the theme “Dilemmas of Democracy in South Asia”.
Tissainayagam, a seasoned journalist, editor, and analyst covering ethnic conflicts, socio-political issues, and the peace process in Sri Lanka, was jailed in Sri Lanka following his arrest by the Terrorism Investigation Division of police in March 2008.
He was sentenced to 20 years Rigorous Imprisonment in 2009 after the High Court found him guilty of conspiracy and violating the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and emergency regulations.
He was pardoned by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in May 2010.
Tissainayagam was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. He was named an Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience in 2008. He received the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJs’) International Press Freedom Award and Reporters without Borders’ Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism in 2009.
Now living in the United States, he completed the 2011-2012 academic year as a Weatherhead Fellow at Harvard University, having served as a Nieman Fellow in Journalism in 2010-2011.
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program is funded by the U.S. Congress to enable democratic practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and enhance their ability to promote democratic change.