Tag Archives: Jaffna politics

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

Sri Lanka: State security forces obstruct peaceful assembly in Jaffna ; students and journalists assaulted and arrested

 

Press release/ 31 Nov 2012

  NfR Sri Lanka, a net work of journalists and human rights defenders, dismayed and shocked that once again the Government of Sri Lanka has unleashed state terror on students and journalists in Jaffna in flagrant violation of peoples right to peaceful assembly, an universal right enjoyed by people in the democratic world. This is an assault on freedom of expression rights as well.

 This brutal assault took place on 27th Nov 2012 in Jaffna when University students led remembrance was being held. Number of students was injured as a result, editor of the Jaffna based best selling news paper Uthayan was manhandled by the military and photographers were forced to delete the pictures of military and police brutality. Among the journalists assaulted are staff of another Jaffna based newspaper, Valampuri and students of the journalism training centre, Jaffna. Continue reading

Sri Lanka: Obstruction of the campaign against disappearances in Jaffna is an indication of the dangerous level of militarisation in Sri Lanka

Press release/ 18th January 2012

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders, strongly condemns the obstruction of the protest campaign against the disappearances in Sri Lanka by security forces without any legal ground. This blatant violation of people’s democratic rights shows that in the so-called liberated North of Sri Lanka not the rule of law but the rule of the military prevails. This anti-democratic behaviour of the military personnel stationed in the Northern Province reinforces the recommendation of the LLRC for immediate demilitarisation and re-establishing the civil administration.

Today (Tuesday, 17th January 2012) a joint platform of various peoples’ organisations had organised a protest campaign in Jaffna against the ongoing disappearances and focussed on the disappearance of two human rights defenders, Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and  Kugan Muruganandan, a month ago.

The Organization Collective against Abductions and Disappearance had coordinated this campaign. 17 political parties and organizations, including the Movement for Peoples’ Struggles, United Socialist Party, NSSP, Maoist Lanka Communist Party, Alternative Group of LSSP, Socialist Party, Socialist Organization, People’s March Organization, We Are Sri Lankans, People’s Lawyers Association, Lawyers Associations for Democracy, Students for Human Rights, Inter Company Employees’ Union, All Ceylon Telecom Employees’ Union and All Island Health Employees’ Union, were to take part in today’s protest campaign.

The members of those organisations who were travelling to Jaffna in a convoy of busses were harassed, checked and finally stopped at Pulliyankulam by the military acting on orders from the above.

According to the organisers of the campaign a special police unit first stopped their busses at Punnawa 4 km before Vavuniya and told them they are not permitted to proceed further as Murukandi Bridge had been exploded. Thereafter, they were searched for over one hour at Joseph Camp and the police headquarters 2 km and 1 km before Vavuniya respectively. After that, busses carrying the protesters were stopped at Thaandikulam in Vavuniya and again searched for three hours for the alleged reason that they had received information that bombs were transported in these busses. The busses were again stopped 5 km after Vavuniya and they were told that four bombs in a lorry ahead of them were being neutralized by the Army, hence, protesters could not be permitted to proceed further at the risk of their safety.

All these stories were concocted by higher military officials as a pretext to block the protest against the ongoing disappearances. This illustrates that the Sri Lankan Government is willing to go to any length to stop people getting organised to claim their human rights.
 
Meanwhile, “Thinakural Rest” hotel in Jaffna where the Organization Collective had planned to hold a media briefing was attacked by a mob of thugs at 1.30 pm on the same day and the property of the hotel and three vehicles parked nearby were damaged.

Government ministers were making fear mongering and hysteria creating statements in the last few weeks in order to discourage campaigns against previous and ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

The right to association and to free speech are inviolable fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of Sri Lanka. The duty of the state security forces is to protect those rights and not to trample them. In this case, it is evident that these democratic rights are not protected by either the Government of Sri Lanka or the state security forces. Furthermore, this development is an indication of tightening military control of people’s life in the Northern Province resulting in frightening people into silence in the context of a growing demand for an independent and credible investigation into human rights violations related to the last phase of the war.

NfR calls for urgent attention of national and international human rights organisations to respond to this dangerous trend and requests appropriate action be taken in solidarity for the victims of all human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka: GOSL should held responsible for the disappearance of two human rights defenders in Jaffna

Press release/ 16th January 2012

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders (HRDs) expresses its deep concern over the disappearance of Mr. Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Mr. Kugan Muruganandan.  Even though more than five weeks have passed since disappearance there has been no information about them to date and all efforts to trace them have been of no avail.   They went missing from Jaffna on 9th December, 2011 while they were active in organizing a press conference to be held in Jaffna on 10th December, on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day.   
They were both human rights defenders and leading members of the ‘We Are Sri Lankans’ (WESL). That is an organization working towards national harmony and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  Mr. Weeraraj was a tireless HRD and ironically his focus has been the involuntary disappearances that have taken place during the last phase of the war. He played a courageous and inspiring role in setting up committees of Families of the Disappeared in all the districts in the North. He organized protest campaigns with families of the disappeared on number of occasions.  At the time of his disappearance he was the Jaffna Coordinator of the Movement for People’s Struggle (MPS) (Jana Aragala Wiyapaaraya). He was unlawfully arrested on number of occasions and beaten up by pro government thugs in the presence of police. He was abducted twice before, once by the military in uniform in the Killinochchi town and released after questioning. In the face of all these intimidations and obstacles he did not give up his human rights work.  In short, he was an emerging civil and political leader in the war torn Northern districts campaigning for  human rights. 

Mr. Kugan Muruganandan had been his close associate in all these human rights work of Mr. Weeraraj

Related incidents reported since their disappearance points towards the government’s culpability in this heinous crime. 

Close to midnight on the day of their disappearance, 9th December Mr. Weeraraj’s father received a number of threatening phone calls on his mobile phone. The callers threatened to kill Mr. Weeraraja and warned that “either you remove your son from Jaffna or we will do it for you”.

On 14th December, Mr. Muruganandan’s wife found the motor cycle bearing no. NP GT7852, in which Mr. Muruganandan and Mr. Weeraraj were last seen, parked inside the Atchchuveli Police Station. Until she inquired about this motor cycle the police didn’t inform her about the custody of this motor cycle. 

Next day, on 15th December, Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the media at a Cabinet briefing that ‘Mr. Weeraraj and Mr. Muruganandan have not disappeared, but are there’.

Even though a number of local and international organizations have called for an immediate and impartial investigation into the disappearance of two HRDs, the law enforcement agencies have failed to take any serious action on this matter.  

According to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances on there are more than 5000 unresolved reported cases of involuntary disappearances in Sri Lanka. In addition local NGOs working on disappearances have reported that they have received around 5000 complaints of disappearances during the recent years.  The media has reported a dozen abductions by unidentified groups during the last few weeks. Politically motivated involuntary disappearances have been part of the Sri Lanka Government’s way of suppressing dissent for decades now.

The disappearance of the two human rights defenders, Weeraraj amd Kugan,    is not only a violation of their right to life but constitute a larger threat to the freedom of association and freedom of expression in Sri Lanka.  Moreover this incident shows that there are forces within Sri Lanka that will not allow any genuine investigation into crimes against humanity that have taken place during the last phase of the war. 

In this context that NfR holds the government of Sri Lanka responsible for the disappearance of both these HRDs and call for an independent investigation into this incident in particular and the other incidents of disappearances in general.  Failure to do so would inevitably lead to the conclusion that  such incidents have occurred at the hands of agents of the State against whom the government does not wish to take action.

Sri Lanka: Intimidation of dissent continues; Student leader assaulted in Jaffna

Press release/ 17 Oct. 2011

Networking for Rights is deeply concerned that the assault on Jaffna Student Leader, Subramaniam Thevapalasingham is a further erosion of the democratic rights of the people of Sri Lanka. Thavapalasigham is reported to have been attacked with iron rods and is presently receiving treatment at the Jaffna Hospital. Thavapalsingham has sustained injuries to his head.

While his assailants have so far not been identified, former MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam has told the BBC that Thavapalsingham suspects the military to be behind the attack as he had been under threat since his election as student leader. According to the Daily Mirror, Thavapalasingham is reported to have claimed that his assailants had asked him whether he wanted a separate state, while assaulting him. Meanwhile the State run Lankapuwath news Agency attributes the assault to a student dispute.

Thavapalasingham has been playing a prominent role in mobilizing students to protest the spate of “grease-devil” incidents that have caused fear amongst the people of late.
According to TamilNet, this is the third such attack; the first two being the attempt on Ramesh, the present chairman of the Valikaamam East Piratheasa Chapai (PS) and the assault on the Udayan Chief Editor Gnanasundaram Kuganathan.
Harassment and intimidation of civilians has become a way of life in Sri Lanka, and in the past several years the numbers of incidents have escalated in all parts of the country. It is the right of all civilians to mobilize and participate in peaceful protests; that is the hallmark of a truly democratic country. However, the opposite is true in Sri Lanka, where any attempt by civilians to voice their concerns, or the media to raise any issue is met with some form of brutality. It is an indication of an administration which resorts to undemocratic methods to suppress freedom of expression and dissent and enables other unruly elements to take the law into their own hands. Merely conducting elections does not ensure democracy; rather it is the respect for the rule of law and rights of citizens to voice their concerns that make a true democracy.
Networking for Rights reiterates its call that while civilians are protected and their right to dissent is upheld, that a genuine and speedy inquiry is held into Thavapalasighams assault and the culprits brought to book.

Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka
Steering committee : 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)

Sri Lanka: Restrictions imposed on Uthayan daily violates peoples’ right to information

Press release/ 12 April 2011
According to the press freedom watch dog,  the Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka, the Jaffna Municipal Council has prohibited all government offices, departments and establishment, including libraries in Jaffna  from subscribing to or purchasing the Uthayan newspaper. The Council  has  also  requested  government officials not to invite any journalists from the newspaper to cover state events, interact with the journalists, provide any information or send press releases to this newspaper.  Uthayan’s  readership far exceed all other newspapers printed or sold in the Jaffna Peninsula and is owned by  Mr. Saravanapavan, a Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament for the Jaffna District.

NfR views this undemocratic action as a continuation of  suppression of freedom of expression  and the right to information  in Sri Lanka.  Furthermore this is an intimidation and an indirect threat to the media in general and  the independent Tamil media in Sri Lanka, in particular.

NfR expresses its  serious concern over this decision of the  Jaffna Municipal Council.  which   is controlled by the ruling coalition in the country.  There is  no other media outlet in Sri Lanka other than the Uthayan, which has faced untold sufferings due to continuous  intimidations and threats  by  state actors.   During the conflict the Uthayan news paper   has played a vital role in providing information to  people over the  last three decades under very trying circumstances.   It is in that  context that NfR  expresses its view  that banning Uthayan from government institutions is  a clear violation of the right  to information.

In condemning this undemocratic action by the Jaffna Municipal Council, perhaps at the behest of the  ruling party, the NfR expresses its solidarity with Uthayan and its staff  in their endeavour  to provide  news and  alternate  points of view on current events   to it readership.

Issued by

Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Desecrating ashes of a mother in Jaffna – Immediate inquiry necessary .

NfR – Net working for rights in Sri lanka
Exile network for media and human rights in Sri Lanka
Press release/ 24 February 2011

NfR, Network of exiled Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders, expresses its serious concern about the incident on the 22nd instant,  of  the ashes of  a cremated mother in Jaffna being  desecrated and the putting of the bodies of 3 dogs killed by shooting  on the cremation spot.   In accordance with the Hindu tradition,  the ashes of a cremated body are collected the next  day  to be dissolved in a river or sea. According to media reports the  ashes had been scattered by military vehicles running over the spot. NfR sources in Jaffna confirmed the truth of this incident and indicated  that no one wants to speak about it openly because of fear.
The mother known as  Parvathi Ammal,  happened to be the mother of Velupillai Prabaharan , leader of the LTTE. It is clear this dastardly act was carried out just because of one of her siblings happened to be this  Parbaharan.  Mrs. Vallipuram Parvathi, who has been ill for some time passed away on last Sunday the 20th February 2011.  Condemning this kind of inhuman brutality does not mean that one condones the actions of  the LTTE or its leader Prabaharan.
NfR condemns this despicable act of desecrating her cremation site  which goes against  basic civilized norms and behaviors.   Respect for  dead is an age old human tradition. This uncivilized behaviour  goes against the noble  Buddhist precepts  which the present  leaders of the country  are claiming to follow.  The symbolic message this uncivilized behaviour  will convey, especially to the people in Jaffna and Sri Lankan Tamils  in general, and the people of the world outside in particular,   is that the Tamils are subjugated people who are not even allowed to exercise their basic cultural right to  respect their dead. Even the rules of war specify respect for the dead enemies.  Indeed, no Sinhalese would accept such an act to happen on their dead and would protest vehemently against such incidents.  However, in the current political climate in Sri Lanka, Tamil people cannot speak out because of the existing fear-psychosis. Nor can the right think citizens of the country do so without facing undesirable consequences.  In  highly militarized Jaffna, the general perception would be that  it is the security forces that should be held accountable to this act. Several media outlets had reported that the military prevented  people from  participating freely at  the funeral of the dead lady.
NfR views this incident as a continuation of military responses to Tamil peoples grievances and sending a signal of continued suppression of cultural rights  of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
NfR demand that an immediate and impartial inquiry  be held into this incident in order to find out the culprits  responsible for  this highhanded behavior. The findings of such inquiry should be made public and those responsible should be dealt with in a manner that  would be a deterrent to similar incident in the future.  Failing  to  initiate  such an inquiry and bring the culprits to book would lead to the inevitable conclusion   that this is an another atrocity committed by the security forces in collusion with the government of Sri Lanka.
Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

Steering committee : 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 NfR.SriLanka@gmail.com
http://nfrsrilanka.blogspot.com/ Face book: nfrsrilnka

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 

NfR.SriLanka@gmail.com

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