Tag Archives: Human Rights

Sri Lanka: Eradication of anti Muslim violence needs deeds instead of words

Networking for Rights cautiously welcomes  President Mahinda Rajapakse’s   recent statement  that his government will not tolerate racism and religious intolerance.

According to a report in The Hindu newspaper of March 31 this statement had been made by him  at a religious gathering in Werehena.  He had added   “This is a democratic country with non-Buddhists having equal rights and freedoms. While we safeguard the rights of Buddhists, it is the responsibility of the Buddhists to be exemplary and protect the rights of others.” Continue reading

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Sri Lanka: Police and Military Block Family Members of Disappeared Heading to UN in Colombo: UN should act

NfR, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders, expresses its strongest indignation to the Government of Sri Lanka for its dastardly act of blocking Tamil civilians travelling to Colombo to demand justice for the disappeared. Police has used their trucks to block the buses they were travelling with.

 On 5th March 2013 the family members, who were travelling to Colombo to participate in a protest campaign and to hand over a petition to UN regarding their disappeared relatives, were blocked in Vavuniya by a joint operation of the police and the military. This is a clear attempt to create a fear-psychosis among the Tamil people demanding accountability and justice for the disappeared. Continue reading

NfR Sri Lanka expresses deep concern on the threats to Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias and calls for show of solidarity

NfR Sri Lanka, a net work of Sri Lankan journalists and Human Rights Defenders expresses its deep concerns on the reported Threats and intimidations directed at Sri Lankan human rights lawyer Lakshan Dias.

 Mr. Lakshan Dias is a well known human rights activist with a long standing experience in promoting and protecting all human rights for all.

 A formal complaint was lodged on these threatening developments at the Moratuwa Police (Colombo district) under reference no. CIB-1- 232/442 on 25th Feb. 2013. Updates of further incidents were also communicated to the Police. The number of the motorcycle has also been communicated to the Police. Action taken by the Police is not known. Continue reading

Sri Lanka: NfR’s calls for a serious investigation into the discovery of a mass grave in the Matale District of Sri Lanka.

13.02.2013
NfR Sri Lanka, a net work of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders,  views the discovery of a mass grave in Matale in the  Central Province of Sri Lanka   should lead  to a renewed  discussion on   violence against political opponents, accountability, truth and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Finding a mass grave of 200 bodies is a serious matter  that needs special attention.  Continue reading

Sri Lanka; Newspapers burned in Jaffna; Armed political thugs intimidate peaceful protest in Colombo

NfR, Networking for Rights in SriLanka, a net work of Sri Lankan journalists and Human rights defenders, expressed its strongest condemnation of blatant violations of people’s right to free expression reported form Jaffna and Colombo on today, 10th January 2013.

 In Jaffna Uthayan newspaper came under attack early this morning.  Mr. Nageswaran Piratheepan one of its delivery agent was followed by four ‘unidentified persons’ riding two motor bicycles. Mr. Piratheepan was stopped, beaten with poles, his motorbike and the newspapers were set on fire by them..  Mr. Piratheepan has been admitted to the Jaffna teaching hospital and reports say that one of his arms is broken in the assault. The assault took place at 5.30 AM at Maalu junction Jaffna. Continue reading

Open appeal to Human Rights Council: At UPR – Sri Lanka prevail upon Sri Lanka not to dismantle the 13 amendment and provide speedy political solution

An open appeal to the UN HRC in connection with the Universal Periodic Review in November, 2012  on Sri Lanka urging  it  to  prevail  upon Sri Lanka to stop the dismantling  the devolution of powers that have been conferred on the Provincial Councils by the provisions of the  13th Amendment to the Constitution.
 

NfR Sri Lanka, a net work of journalists and human rights defenders,  makes this urgent and open appeal to the members of UN Human Rights Council in the context of the up coming second session  of the Universal Periodic Review. The human rights situation of Sri Lanka is to be reviewed during this session commencing on  1st November 2012.  Continue reading

Sri Lanka: Government using ‘Hidden Agenda Theory’ to suppress legitimated demands of the University Community

In Sri Lanka the universities have remained closed since August 21, this year and university staff has been on strike since July. The point of contention is a demand for a 20% pay hike, improved facilities and more government spending (6% of the GDP) on education. The demands of the Federation for University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) in July this year and has failed to yield any satisfactory result so far. Even in this crisis the government is accusing the strikers of having “hidden political agenda” and the Minister of Higher Education, S B Dissanayake has ordered all universities except the medical faculties closed. University staff and student who protested the move has been tear gassed. Continue reading

Sri Lanka: Threats to Dr. Nirmal R. Devasiri of FUTA is an another instance of suppression of dissent

Press release/ 25 June 2012

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders expresses its serious concern over the recent threats and intimidations directed at Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, the President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) for his trade union activities.  FUTA has been campaigning for better remuneration for University teachers and education facilities in the universities.  FUTA has also campaigned against the privatisation of the university education. In addition the FUTA has announced a strike by its members demanding the implementation of the agreed salary structure from 4th July 2012.

 NfR Sri Lanka views this intimidation of members of the academic community in the country, with alarm and condemns unconditionally those who are behind such dastardly acts. This is clearly a violation of the universally accepted democratic right to dissent, freedom of expression and the right to association.

 According to FUTA  ‘a group of men claiming to be from the Ministry of Defence have been behaving suspiciously within the neighbourhood of the Secretary of Arts Faculty Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith on June 19, 2012. They have questioned the neighbours regarding Dr. Devasiri’s movements and details regarding his family.’ On June 21, Dr. Devasiri has lodged a complaint in this regard at the Maharagama Police Station. He has also received a number of telephone calls threatening him and his family to stop continuing to work as the President of FUTA. 

 The Sri Lanka Police is notorious for its lethargy in investigating killings, threats and intimidations of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and academics. Friday Forum, a concerned group of eminent persons and academics in Sri Lanka has stated that they have requested for a meeting with Inspector General of Police to seek his support towards arresting the culture of impunity, and to request him to take measures to prevent acts of police brutality and the violent repression of public protests. This request has received only ‘an unhelpful bureaucratic response’.  In a show of his arrogance and bureaucratic attitude towards civil society, the IGP has not considered it necessary for him to meet the Friday Forum.  Regrettably, the IGP has not been able to show any independence whatsoever towards marauding politicians or their henchmen.

 While condemning the biased attitude of police towards politically motivated crimes in the country, NfR requests that government to initiate an impartial inquiry into this incident and bring the culprits to book without delay.  It is only by doing so that the Government of Sri Lanka can absolve itself from being blamed as being involved in the harassment and intimidation of Dr. Devasiri directly and   the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations, indirectly.

 

Abductions reach dangerous heights

Press release 08.04.2012

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders, condemns in very strong terms the recent abduction of Mr. Premakumar Gunarathnam and Ms. Dimuthu Attygalle, two leading political activist in the country.

According to reliable sources Ms. D Attygalle was abducted on 6th April, late in the evening and Mr. Gunarathnam on the 7th April early in the morning. Both of them are leading figures of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) of Sri Lanka.

The government of Sri Lanka was looking for Premakumar Gunarathnam for some time as he was tipped to be the leader of a new left political formation, FSP. The wife of Mr. Gunarathnam, Dr Somaratne, was detained with her two children for 18 hours at Colombo’s international airport on 02 January and questioned about the whereabouts of Mr. Gunarathnam.

According to an eyewitness around 25 armed persons had come to the place where Mr. Gunarathnam  was staying at Kiribathgoda, suburb of Colombo, to abduct him. The manner in which the abduction had taken place shows without any doubt , the involvement of state agencies in this heinous crime.

Two activists from the same political group, Lalith Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan, were abducted on 9th December 2011 and they remain missing to this day. Lalith Weeraraj was abducted by the military prior to 9th December and had been released after being threatened to stop work related to disappearances of persons in the North. The families of both these men have also suffered threats, harassment and surveillance following their abductions.

Abductions have continued unabated in Sri Lanka over the last six months or so. Nearly 60 such incidents had been reported during this period. Threats, harassments, attacks and intimidation of political and civil activists too, have been reported from all corners of the country.

In recent times it has come to light that white van abductors are in fact military personnel in civil clothes. There had been instances when Government leaders had intervened and got abducted persons released in no time when they were inclined to help the victims. However the law enforcement agencies had not been pursuing any of the complaints of disappearances in all earnest. This has given credence to the widely prevalent suspicion that the state is involved in these abductions.

Abduction of leading political figures like Mr. Gunarathnam and Ms. Attygalle brings the trend of the suppression of the dissenting and opposing voices and physical elimination of persons the state considers to be a threat to its autocratic rule, to a peak. These incidents have revived memories of the period of terror (the bheeshana samaya ) that prevailed in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1992 and have created a tensed situation in the country.
 
NfR is saddened and shocked by the abduction of these two leading political activists and appeals all human and democratic forces to register their concern with the Government of Sri Lanka and take all available steps to secure the lives of Mr. Gunarathnam and Ms. Attygalle.

Sri Lanka: Targeting a daughter of a journalist in exile by the government backed media in Sri Lanka should be condemned

Press release/ 28 March 2012

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the virulent campaign launched by the Government backed media in Sri Lanka, against a daughter of a journalist in exile, in the wake of Human Rights Council’s resolution on accountability in Sri Lanka. This is a deliberate effort to suppress dissenting views being expressed in the country.

ITN the State controlled TV channel has shown visuals of the daughter of the exiled journalist Poddala Jayantha, 24 times over last few weeks.

Award winning journalist and defender of press freedom, Poddala Jayantha was abducted, tortured and left to die in June 2009, presumably by a state sponsored killer squad, after he returned to the Island from India after staying there temporarily for security reasons. He fled to the United States of America with his family in early 2010 as threats to his life didn’t cease and lives in New York.

Jayantha’s daughter, a 13 year old student was shown walking with her father as a back ground visuals on State controlled television while the journalist was blamed by the commentator for unfounded anti-government activities.

NfR considers the use of visuals of an innocent child as a back ground to dangerous attacks on her father, to be a crime that should be condemned in the strongest terms and its perpetrators should be brought to justice.

NfR condemned this unethical and totally unacceptable behaviour of the Sri Lankan state media and holds the GoSL responsible for this action. GoSL continues to keep a complete control over state media by appointing the members to its board of directors, editors and even news casters. There is no truth in the statement that State media is free and GoSL is not responsible for these virulent attacks on journalists.

The NfR joins the growing local and international opposition to hostile rhetoric by GoSL against journalists, press freedom defenders and human rights defenders in the wake of the passing of a resolution at the UN HRC demanding the implementation of the recommendations of the LLRC.NfR calls upon human rights organisations to voice their strong opposition to all these attacks and demands that GoSL should tender an open apology to the daughter of journalist Poddala Jayantha.