On February 15, Warnakulasuriya Anthony Fernando (35) a fisherman, was shot and killed in Chilaw, a coastal town in northwest Sri Lanka, by military firing on a group of fisherfolk protesting against the recent increase in the prices of diesel. Six other demonstrators were injured, one of them seriously. Chilaw was then placed under curfew.
These events, which have left one dead and many injured, clearly point to the heightened intolerance of dissent in the country and to the government’s blatant disregard for the rights of people to organize and mobilize against injustice. The deterioration of the rule of law and the prevalence of impunity contribute to a rising toll of human rights violations in the first two months of 2012.
In addition, there have been three abductions and the recovery of one dead body in Colombo within a matter of a few days.
On February 11, Mr. Ramasamy Prabakaran (42), a Tamil businessman owning an electronics shop at the Majestic City Complex in Bambalapitiya (Colombo 4), was abducted from the road in front of his home in Wellawatta (Colombo 6) at about 3 p.m. in the afternoon, in front of his wife and daughter, by a group of seven armed men armed with assault rifles who dragged him into a ‘white van’ and drove off. Mr Prabakaran’s abduction took place two days before February 13, when the Supreme Court was due to hear his fundamental rights application through which he was seeking judicial remedies for torture and illegal detention. He had been released from detention by order of the Courts in September 2011, after 28 months in police custody, without any charges being filed against him.
On February 13, Chandrapala Mervyn, a suspect who was being taken to prison after a court appearance was abducted from the Court premises in Hulftsdorf, Colombo, by a group of six men in a white van who had assaulted the prison officers present. The Police attacked members of his family who gathered outside the Courts on the morning after his abduction to express their protest at what had happened.
On February 14, a businessman (42) from Nawinna was abducted at the Dehiwala railway station around 8:30 p.m by a group of armed men in a van.
On February 14, a severely burnt body was found between Torrington Avenue and Boteju Mawatha in Colombo 5 by the Narahenpita Police.
It is all the more appalling that these egregious violations of human rights take place as the international community prepares for the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The NfR appeals to all those who stand for the right of all human beings to enjoy human rights and democratic freedoms to come to the defense of the people of Sri Lanka who are being horribly penalised for daring to exercise their rights.
We call on them to support all national and global initiatives that week accountability and justice in Sri Lanka.