Tag Archives: militarisation

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

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: NfR condemns Assault on Navanthurai civilians by security forces

Press release/ 26 August 2011

NfR Sri Lanka, a network of Sri Lankan journalists and human rights defenders   living outside the country condemns the brutal assault on civilians by the officers of Navanthurai Army Detachment, in the Jaffna district. The assault took place on the night of 22nd August 2011. At least 18 of the arrested civilians have been tortured badly and had to be hospitalized. Photographic evidence published by reliable online media sources indicates  that many of them having plastered arms and legs.

According to reliable sources,

”At around 1.15 am on 23rd August, the army entered Navanthurai and detained between 100 – 120 young men from the village.  According to eye witnesses including two Catholic nuns, between 6-12 Army officers entered each house in the village and dragged out men who were sleeping with their families and children. The men were brutally and indiscriminately beaten with rifle butts and iron rods and dragged along the road towards the Army detachment located around 300 meters from the village. Women and children were also beaten in the attack.”

The civilians who were assaulted were denied medical treatment for up to 8 hours and only after judicial intervention they were allowed to obtain medical treatment.

Both these actions are grave violations of law.

It should be noted that that this brutal attack comes in the wake of international outcry against the Sri Lankan Security forces for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated against   Tamil civilians during the last phase of the war.

We are also deeply dismayed at the Sinhala and English language mainstream media that failed to report and investigate this story. It is only the Tamil language press and online media that have covered this act of brutality.

The arrest of civilians in the middle of the night took place after a mass protest against the Navanthurai Army Detachment, which according the people, were giving protection to the five intrudes in to the village when they were chased away by the villagers. People in the area believed those intruders were so called Grease devils (Grease Yakkas/Grease pootham) that attack women.

The phenomenon   of Grease devils has created uproar in the rural North and East where Muslims and Tamils predominantly live. Opposition politicians have blamed the Government for not preventing recurrent incidents of unknown intrudes trying to harass and harm women of Tamil and Muslim communities. Some have even blamed the government for creating this fear psychosis in order to further militarise the North and East.

The brutality of the Sri Lankan Armed forces once again raises the issue of Sinhala supremacist tendencies and anti Tamil sentiments within the Security Forces. In the past there have been violent protests against security forces in various parts of the country. However, in none of those instances the security forces deployed this kind of mass arrests and brutal assaults. It is clear that military establishment wanted to convey a very clear massage to the Tamils in Sri Lanka that they are a subjugated community.

NfR vehemently condemns the attacks on Tamil civilians by the Security forces.

NfR calls upon national and international human rights organisations to initiate an investigation in to this incident. It is very difficult to expect the Government of   Sri Lanka to launch an impartial investigation that would bring the culprits to book given the culture of impunity, which has become the norm in Sri Lanka.

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)

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NfR.SriLanka@gmail.com