Tag Archives: death squads

Sri Lanka: State media distort a UN HRC event and drag a head of a state to intimidate dissent

Press release/ 15 September 2011

  NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders living outside the country, condemns the falsification of the proceedings of a side event organized by Sri Lankan Mission in Geneva, to intimidate Sri Lankan press freedom and human rights campaigner Sunanda Deshapriya. He has been a leading activist and a former convenor of the Free Media Movement. Sunanda Deshapriya is a founder member and a steering committee member of the Networking for Rights in Sri Lanka. He is associated with number of other national and international human rights organizations.

On 12th September 2011 Sri Lanka Embassy in Geneva organized a side event at the Palais des Nations to show the film ‘ Lies Agreed Upon’ which is a response to the film ‘Sri Lanka Killing Fields’ produced by the Channel 4. This was a parallel event held during the 18th Session of the UN HRC now being held in Geneva, Switzerland. Sunanda Deshapriya was the only former FMM convener who participated at the side event.

Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation which is a radio station controlled by the Government, carried the news item set out below during its 6.45 a.m. news broadcast on 15th September, 2011.

 ”The President of the Maldives, Mr. Mohammad Nasheed has told the former head of the Free Media Movement that it is a disgrace to work against ones own country. The former had questioned the right of the President to speak about Sri Lanka after the screening of the film ‘Lies Agreed Upon’. Responding to that question the Maldivian President had said that he emphasized fully aware of the situation of Sri Lanka. When the Maldivian president asked him whether he is form a NGO he has accepted it. Then the Maldivian president has been able to silence the former FMM head.”

This news item is a complete fabrication by the government of Sri Lanka. No such exchange took place between the president Nasheed and Deshapriya. The SLBC is an institution that is under the political control of the Media Ministry and Presidential Secretariat. In fact, instead of discrediting Sunanda Deshapriya this false report discredits the President of Maldives who spoke with great restraint and moderation at the side event. Sunanda Deshapriya didn’t ask any questions and President Mohamed Nasheed didn’t say a single word to the SLBC. This shows that in their attempt to intimidate human rights defenders, the GOSL controlled media outlets go to the extent of involving foreign dignitaries to add credibility to their fabrications.
Reprisals against human rights defenders for participation in the UN system are considered as a serious human right violation. In this instance state controlled media and there by the Sri Lankan state itself has become a violator of that right.

 NfR views this fabrication as a continuation of the suppression of dissent and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. It is ironical that this kind of intimidatory tactics are being used even while GOSL delegation to the 18th Session of UN HRC is emphasizing that Sri Lanka has restored all freedoms and the rule of law in the country.
Condemning this false propaganda of GOSL, NfR calls for an immediate correction to the said news item and give it the same degree of publicity.

 Issued by
Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka



The re-immergence of fear psychosis the Jaffna District

Press release/ 03.01.2011 Sri Lanka:

NfR expresses its serious concern about the deterioration of the law and order situation in the Northern Districts of Sri Lanka. The series of killings that have taken place during the last few weeks in the Jaffna Peninsula raises the question whether death squads have been reactivated in the Jaffna Peninsula. The latest in the series of killings, is the cold blooded murder of 28 year old Ketheeswaran Thevarajah of Jaffna on 31st December 2010. This is the fifth such killing that has taken place in Jaffna within last two weeks. None of these killings have been seriously investigated or resolved, so far.

According to reports appearing in the news media Thevarajah, who was a postal worker in Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna, had been shot by armed men who entered the house where he was staying that night. He had later succumbed to the gun shot injuries.

There has been no other apparent reason for this killing him of a civic conscious activist. Some news media has reported that the killers had asked him to open his page on the face book and shot him at point blank range. Mr. Thevarajah, had posted photographs on his face book on the environmental damage caused by sand excavation in his village. According to news reports, he had provided reports to Jaffna media on the same issue. Looking at this matter in that context, it is obvious that this killing is also another in the series of killings to restrict the ‘freedom of expression’ in Sri Lanka.

Excavation of sand illegally from sand dunes in the Jaffna district by politically powerful persons, had become a public issue recently. A few months ago there had been public protests over this matter. People alleged that a pro-government para military force of a political party is responsible for the illegal excavation of sand in the area.

Whatever the reason may be, it is clear that the killers were from an organized gang and were able to get away without any problems, after the shooting.

The killing of Mr. Thevarajah, taken together with the other recent murders in that region, raises the question whether the much feared death squads are being reactivated in Jaffna to stifle dissenting civil voices and tightening the governments control of the population of that area. Putting the blame on unknown persons as being responsible for such incidents cannot be accepted taking into consideration the fact that the Jaffna Peninsular is strictly under the control of the military.

It appears that Jaffna is already engulfed in an evolving fear psychosis similar to what was in vogue during the infamous ‘period of terror’ (the beeshana samaya) in the South from about the middle of 1985 to 1995, when thousands Sinhala youth were abducted, killed or had disappeared under identical circumstances. This raises the second question, whether the creation of a fear psychosis has become the government’s strategy to keep the Tamil people under tight political control?

NfR would like to emphasize that such a strategy is bound to fail. We urge the government of Sri Lanka which has the Northern and Eastern Provinces firmly under its control, to take immediate steps to reassure the safety and security of the people living in those areas and restore the rule of law.

Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

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)

C/O, 19447, Victory Blvd,#2, Reseda,CA 91335, USA 


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

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