Monthly Archives: December 2010

Sri Lanka: Media access denied to cover selected hearings of the LLRC at a detention camp

Press release/ 31 December  2010

Information reaching NfR from Sri Lanka shows that the reason behind the last minute blocking of access to media  at the hearings of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) took place at  the  infamous  Boosa detention camp on 30th December 2010,  was to  prevent the media  access to the   hearings of selected witnesses who were to give evidence on that day.  NfR re-iterates its concern that censorship in any form will discredit the  proceedings of the LLRC  and  negate the  achievement of its  objectives.

This again shows that the government does not wish  to provide  unrestricted media accesses to any reconciliation and accountability process. That is  vital in order to  bring out the voices heard and unheard by  such initiatives and monitor the responses. The people have been denied the right to information on what transpired during the proceedings of the LLRC in Boosa.

Unspecified number of Tamil detainees are kept in the Boosa detention camp. There has been a number of  allegations of torture and inhuman treatments of detainees in this camp. NfR feels strongly  that all those detainees who wanted to give evidence at the LLRC should have been given a chance to place their grievances before  it.  Media has a right to monitor and report on the evidence they place  unless the persons concerned had preferred to give evidence in camera.

According to Centre for Human Rights, a  human rights organization in Colombo,  journalists from the BBC, LAKBIMANEWS, Thinakural, Veerakesari, Reuters and Tamil Mirror had arrived at Boosa Detention Centre  that morning  having obtained permission from the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS).  After waiting for nearly three hours these journalists had been told that they need approval from the Defence Ministry to cover  the proceeding.  Consequently  they had return to Colombo  disappointed.

The LLRC blocked international media from covering their proceedings  in two previous occasions and  on both those  occasions hearings took place in the war affected Northern Province.  On both those occasions it appears that  evidence  had immerged on abductions and killings of unarmed Tamils.  On an another occasion a para-military group working with the government had threatened journalists who had gone to  cover the proceedings.

Genuine reconciliation needs  an open  and transparent   process. Closing the door to Media and denying opportunities to persons who want to be heard,  will only exacerbate  the situation making reconciliation and peaceful co-existence  of the various communities in Sri Lanka more and  more difficult.

Steering Committee
NfR Sri Lanka

Advertisements

Right to reply – Sri Lanka denies NfR allegation on the killing of Jaffna Education Director Print E-mail Thursday,


(See NfR comment below)

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Our attention is drawn to a statement by Networking for Rights (NfR – Sri Lanka) on 28.12.2010 titled “Sri Lanka: Director Education in Jaffna shot dead for speaking out”

The allegations in this statement which refers to the killing by unknown persons of the Deputy Director of Education, Valikamam zone of the Jaffna district, are wholly false.

The statement alleges that the killing of Mr. Markandu Sivalingam, the Deputy Director of Education referred to, was because he openly criticized a circular directing that the National Anthem of Sri Lanka be sung in Sinhala only at the National, Safety Day ceremony held In the Jaffna district on December 26th 2010, the anniversary of the tragic Tsunami of 2004.

We wish to state that no circular to this effect has been issued by any government authority, and as such the alleged criticism of such a circular by the diseased could not have taken place.

The NfR states that their Information regarding in this killing has been confirmed by a news item in the website of the Global Tamil News of 28th December 2010. However, the item referred to on this website, only records the killing and makes no reference to the alleged circular referred by the NfR.

The NfR statement also says that the killing on 15.12.2010 of Nithiyananda Sharma, the chief ‘Priest of Chankaanai Murukamoorthy Temple in the Jaffna district, also had a political motive: This position is also rejected as baseless.

Police investigations are in progress into the killing of Mr. Marakandu Sivalingam, the Deputy Director of Education on 26.12.2010. The police have already apprehended suspect with regard to the killing of the Chief Priest of Chankaanal  Murukamoorthy Temple.

The statement by the NfR appears to be an attempt to interfere with the police Investigations in to these two killings. by seeking to, give these tragic incidents an unwarranted political colourlng, and also to discredit the government by this means. It is noted that the steering committee, of the NfR comprises several Sri Lankans Including journalists who are now living in self-proclaimed “self exile” in western countries and they describe themselves as an “exile network for media and human rights in Sri Lanka”. The cause of media and human rights in Sri Lanka cannot be supported by the dissemination of such false Information as the NfR has done

http://www.news.lk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16961&Itemid=44

NfR comment:

This response by the GOSL does not address the real issues in our statement:

GOSL ordered that national anthem should only be sung in Sinhala at the ceremony.That is a fact.

Mr. Markandu Sivalingam criticized that decision whether there is a circular or not.

He was shot dead in the same night in highly militarized area. Killers did not take any jewelery except one earring. There was no attempted robbery.

So far no one has been arrested for this crime.

Global Tamil News confirms that Mr. Markandu Sivalingam was killed because of his criticism of  Sinhala only practice.

GOSL statement going only refer the circular not the real issues.

Sri Lanka: Director education in Jaffna shot dead for speaking out

Press release/ 28 December  2010

NfR is shocked to learn that the Deputy  Director of Education of the
Valikamam zone of the Jaffna District who refused to direct the students of
the schools  in his zone to recite the National Anthem in Sinhala  only,
was shot  dead in Jaffna on the same day when  the controversial  government
sponsored Tsunami Commemoration Day Ceremony was held in Jaffna.  He  was
shot dead  at  point blank  range on 26.10.2010 by unknown persons  who had
arrived at his residence in a van that evening.

Legitimate criticism of any  action of the government  or  its  policy is a
right  any citizen  should have in a true democracy.   Criticizing  the
policy of  the Government to  recite the  National Anthem only in Sinhala,
is a right of any Sri Lankan.  Killing a person for expressing his
disapproval of such a policy  is not only a violation of his freedom of
expression but also of his  right to life.

According  to information received from NfR sources in Jaffna, 52-year-old
Markandu Sivalingam, the Deputy Director of Education  is reported to have
openly criticized this decision of  the government which had issued a
circular directing that the  National Anthem  should be sung only in Sinhala
at the ceremony  and  had  disapproved the call for  the participation of
school children at  the ceremony. This information has been confirmed by  news item in the
website of the Global Tamil News  of 28th December, 2010.

Armed men  had arrived in a van that evening and  shot him dead in his house
in front of his daughter.  When the armed men entered the house  they had
asked his  daughter  for her jewelry.  She  had  screamed calling for her
father.  When the  father rushed in  they had shot him ignoring her pleas
not to shoot him   and offering them all her jewelry.   Eventually the
killers  had taken  away  only one earring after   Sivalingam had fallen
dead.

Earlier on 15th December, 2010  Nithiyananda Sharma,   the Chief Priest of
Chankaanai Murukamoorthy temple in the Jaffna District, was killed on 15th
December 2010. NfR  is of the opinion that this  killing  too  had a
political motive.  Both the killings were  committed   in such a manner  as
to make them look  like   killings  while attempting to rob.  Incidents of
this nature happening in an area which is under tight security leaves for
speculations  on  who the could be.

NfR  condemns  both  these killings in the  strongest of terms and  demands
that the government of Sri Lanka should  initiate independent and impartial
inquires into  these incidents to  bring the culprits to  book. Failing in
its responsibility to do so,  will only confirm the  widely held belief that
State sponsored death squads are behind these incidents.  Until those
responsible for these killings  are bought to book  the government will
stand  guilty in the eyes of the public.  Besides such inaction will
motivate rogue elements among the security forces to take the law into their
hands with impunity and the  Government’s claim  of bringing about national
reconciliation would remain only a dream.

Issued by:
Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Vice Chancellor bans human rights defender speaking at university while intimidations and threats to media and HRDs’ continue

Press release/ 23 December  2010

(Read in Sinhala as PDF NfR statement -VC bans free speech, intimidations continue unabeted 23h Dec 2010- 05.12.2010 Sinhala)

NfR expresses its serious concern about the continuance of  intimidations and threats  against journalists and human rights defenders in Sri Lanka, contrary to the claim that normalcy has returned to the country.   It is important to note that all these acts of rights violations take place with complete impunity even  though twenty  months  have lapsed after the end of the war.

According to citizen journalism web site groundsviews.org  the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo  “had refused permission for an internationally renowned Sri Lankan human rights defender and a recipient of the 1998 Human Rights Award in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to speak.”  at  ‘”an event to be held on the campus of Colombo University and co-hosted by the Law Faculty and the University’s Human Rights Centre,  in collaboration with the UNDP and UNFPA.”

Universities are said to be centers of knowledge and healthy debate. The arbitrary act of  Vice Chancellor of Colombo University shows  the extent  to which the  culture of intolerance has crept into institutions of learning.

On 12th December unknown persons visited the house of a human rights defender Darasana Kahingala and inquired about him.  They left the house saying that he would be found. Kahingala is a rights activist who is actively engaged in the campaign against disappearances of persons.

On 16th December an officer of the Media Unit of the Army had  threatened  two photo journalists  with death  for  publishing pictures of solders fainting   at the ceremony  held on  55th Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC).   Dinuke Liyanawatta  (Reuters) and Eranga Jayawardene (AFP)  were the photo journalists threatened. During the last two years,  six  photo journalists had to leave the country because of threats  to their life.

On 18th  December the  Mayor of Jaffna, Mrs. Yogeswary Patkunam, had cancelled permission to use the Jaffna Public Library auditorium  by  Home for Human Rights to conduct a workshop on human rights violations  after the war.  Number of academics were among those who were to  participate  at this  event.   Any independent discussion on the aftermath of  the war,  is not allowed in Jaffna and a number of such events had been sabotaged in recent past.

On 19th December  in Batticaloa M. Sasikumar (35) a journalist  of the  Thinakaran newspaper, was assaulted by unidentified persons  under  the cover of darkness.  Although he has lodged a  complaint no one has been arrested. According to TNA MP Ariyanethiran,  this incident has  created  a sense of fear in the minds of the  public.

On 21st December Minister Mervyn Silva  threatened to cut with a razor knife, the mouth  of the person who  gave the media news of him being castigated by the President for wearing a coloured batik shirt to the weekly cabinet meeting.  He  wanted this threat to be carried in the media.  A number of journalists who protested against Minister Silva when he assaulted journalists within the  Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation in  December 2008 were  cut with razor knives and had to leave the country.

All these intimidations and threats send a stern warning to dissent and free speech   thereby   stifling  any informed discussion on much  needed revival of the  rule of law and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

NfR will try  its  best to  continue to document  all these violations  so that the perpetrators will not go unaccounted.

Steering Committee

NfR

C/O, 19447, Victory Blvd,#2, Reseda,CA 91335, USA                      NfR.SriLanka@gmail.com

Steering committee : Iqbal MCM ( The Netherlands),Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)