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

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