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NewsCivil Society calls on PM & President to publicly express their confidence in the Chairperson and HRCSL

Civil Society calls on PM & President to publicly express their confidence in the Chairperson and HRCSL

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Image: Dr. Deepika Udagama, (Daily FT)

Statement by 37 CSOs and 170 Individuals Condemning Attacks Against HRCSL Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama.

We are appalled at statements akin to death threats, violence and hate speech against the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), Dr. Deepika Udagama, a highly respected scholar and human rights advocate. We express grave concern and alarm at these statements and extend our solidarity and support to Dr. Udagama.

We take this opportunity to welcome the independent, substantive and transparent policy interventions made by the HRCSL under Dr. Udagama’s leadership. We also welcome the Commission’s proactive investigations into individual cases and the consultative processes and mechanisms it has put in place including with government and non-government entities. Among the Commission’s work has been the independent vetting process undertaken in relation to the deployment of military personnel for UN peacekeeping operations, which has led to these recent threats. We reiterate that this is part of the mandate of the HRCSL and applaud its commitment to continue despite threats. We welcome the HRCSL’s transparency in clarifying the process of this work in response to misleading and false information published by some media.

The threats against Dr. Udugama as chairperson of the HRCSL, made by Rear Admiral (Rtd.) Sarath Weerasekera, former Director General of the Civil Defence Force, at a media briefing called by the ‘Jathika Sanvidana Ekatuwa’ and published in “Mawbima” a weekly Sinhala language newspaper, on 29th June 2018, are directly linked to the HRCSL’s role in this vetting process, undertaken at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka and with the agreement of the Sri Lanka Army. Dr. Udagama, was also accused of working with NGOs to treacherously further the interests of the Tigers and Rear Admiral Weerasekera called for the death penalty for all traitors under the rule of a patriotic government.

The nature of the attack against Dr. Udagama is of course nothing new. Rear Admiral Weerasekera and others like him routinely seek to discredit, delegitimize and dismiss opinions and actions of those that they are not in agreement with ‘as the work of NGOs, tiger terrorists and unpatriotic elements’ without engaging in reasoned and rational debate. The mainstream media simply reproduces these statements without any analysis or investigation of what is being said.   

The current leadership of the HRCSL has time and again demonstrated its independence from the State and private entities. We wish to stress that the Commissioners of the HRCSL were selected by the Constitutional Council, established by popular demand, through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka in 2015.  It is the diligence and good practice established by the current leadership that resulted in the HRCSL being reinstated to an institution with ‘A’ status under the Paris Principles of 1993, which frame and guide the work of National Human Rights Institutions across the world. We welcome this recognition as another indicator of the institutional integrity re-established by the HRCSL under the leadership of Dr. Udagama.

That the HRCSL Chairperson should be threatened publicly in such a manner and that the Mawbima newspaper chose to highlight such irresponsible statements is a matter of serious concern.  We condemn these statements and the impunity with which they are made.  We call on the President, the Prime Minister and all political leaders to publicly express their confidence in the Chairperson and HRCSL, ensure her protection and that of the other Commissioners and Staff of HRCSL, and enable a safe environment conducive to the work of the HRCSL being carried out without interference, threat or compromise.

Signatures 

Dr. Kumari Jayawardena

Prof. Gananath Obeyesekera 

Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda

Prof. Ajit Abeysekera

Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare

Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Neloufer de Mel

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Dr Reeza Hameed

Dr. Gameela Samarasinghe

Dr. Malathi De Alwis

Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran

Dr. Sepali Kottegoda

Dr. Shermal Wijewardene

Dr. Vasuki Nesiah
Dr. Sakuntala Kadirgamar

Gamini Viyangoda

Ruki Fernando

Anushya Coomaraswamy

Anberiya Hanifa

B. Gowthaman 

Balasingham Skanthakumar

Bhavani Fonseka

Brito Fernando

Phillip Dissanayake

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Suren Perera

Lakshman Gunasekara

Lionel Guruge

Shreen Saroor 

Sumika Perera

Anthony Vinoth

Aritha Wickramasinghe

Arjun Guneratne

Aruna Alwis

Asma Rahman

Avanti Ratnayeke

Buddhima Padmasiri

C.R. Gnanarajah

Chamila Thushari

Charmaine Ratnagopal

Raisa Wickrematunge

Ranee Ratnayeke 

Damith Chandimal

Deekshya Illangasinghe

Dilini Hemachandra

Farah Mihlar

Fathima Razik Cader

Freddy Gamage

Gamini Akmeemana

Gayathri Gamage

Mario Gomez

Marisa De Silva

Marsha Daniel

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera

Mathuri Thamilmaran

Meena Udeshi

Melani Manel Perera

Lucille Abeykoon

Suriya Wickremasinghe

Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala

Danesh Casie Chetty

Geoffrey Alagaratnam, PC

Lal Wijenayake

Chandra Jayaratne

Manel Fonseka

Chandraguptha Thenuwara

Kumudini Samuel

Fr. Nandana Manatunga

Dilrukshi Handunnetti

Herman Kumara

Chulani Kodikara

Sr. Nichola

Sandhya Ekneligoda

Sandun Thudugala

Godfrey Yogarajah

Sunanda Deshapriya

Kumaravadivel Guruparan

Faaiz Ameer

Deanne Uyangoda

Dinushika Dissanayake

Druki Martinstyne

Emil van der Poorten

Ermiza Tegal

Gehan Gunatilleke

Ramani Muttettuwegama

Sanjana Hattotuwa

Sarala Emmanuel

Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala

Jayathilaka Bandara

Jehan Perera

Jensila Majeed  

F. Zackariya

Udaya Kalupathirana

Joanne Senn

Juwairiya Mohideen 

Natasha Balendra

Nigel Nugawela 

H.J.F. Silva

Hans Billimoria

Hasanah Cegu Isadeen

J. Henry de Mel

Jayanta de S Wijeratne

K. Aingkaran

Kalani Subasinghe

Kamani Jinadasa

Kanishka Goonewardena

Kaushalya Fernando

Kshama Ranawana

Mahalaxumy Kurushanthan 

Mangaleswary Shanker

Manthri Perera

Meneka Galigamuwa

Kusal Perera

Miyuru Gunasinghe

Mohandas Thangarajah

Mujeebur Rahman

Paba Deshapriya 

Thiyagaraja Waradas

Anuratha Rajaretnam

Anushika Amarasinghe

Nilantha Ilangamuwa

Nilshan Fonseka

Christine Perera

Damaris Wickremesekera

Kushlani Perera

Nirmanusan Balasundaram.

P. Selvaratnam

Prabha Nagalingham

Peter Munieram

Peter Rezel

Prabodha Rathnayaka

Prabu Deepan

Prasanga Fernando

Priya Mohan 

Priyalal Sirisena

Priyantha Gamage

R.M.B Senanayake

Rumala Morel

Ruvini Perera

Sabra Zahid

Sachini Perera

Sahira Lafir

Sampath Samarakoon

Sato Jayamaha

Savithri Rodrigo

Shalomi Daniel

Shamila Daluwatte

Sharanya Sekaram

Sheila Richards

Shenali De Silva

Shyama Perera

Shyamala Gomez

Stella Victor

Subha Wijesiriwardena. 

Sucharitha Patnatunga

Swasthika Arulingam

Tanuja Thurairajah

Tara Ramanayake

Tehani Ariyaratne

Thaha Muzammil

Tharanga de Silva

Thenu Ranketh

Thyagi Ruwanpathirana

Udeni Thewarapperuma

Vanie Simon 

Vasanthi Harasgama

Visaka Dharmadasa

Yasir Ismail

Zahabia Adamaly

Organizations

  1. Affected Women’s Forum, Ampara 
  2. Afriel Youth Network. 
  3. Alliance Development Trust
  4. Alternative Generation for Social Justice and Rights,  Jaffna
  5. Ampara District Women’s Network (ADWN), Kalmunai/Ampara
  6. Association of War Affected Women
  7. Batticaloa District Aruvi Women’s Network (BDWN), Batticaloa
  8. Center for Humanitarian and Integrated Development (CHID – Mullai), Mullaitivu
  9. Civil and Political Rights AMAYAM (CPR AMAYAM), Eastern Province
  10. Civil Rights Forum (CRF), Kilinochchi
  11. Equal Ground, Sri Lanka
  12. Families of the Disappeared
  13. Forum for Affected People , Mannar
  14. Future in Our Hands Development Fund Badulla
  15. Human Development Organization
  16. Human Rights Office, Kandy
  17. Humanitarian and Human Rights AHAM (HHR – AHAM)
  18. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Center
  19. International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
  20. Law and Human Rights Center (LHRC), Jaffna
  21. Law and Society Trust, Colombo.
  22. Mannar Social and Economical Development Organization  (MSEDO), Mannar
  23. Mannar Women’s Development Federation
  24. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)
  25. Muslim Women Development Trust Puttalam
  26. NAFSO – National Fisheries Solidarity Movement
  27. National Peace Council
  28. North East Coordinating Committee (NECC) 
  29. People for Justice Center (PJC),  Vavuniya
  30. People’s Collective for Climate Justice (PCCJ),  Eastern Province
  31. Right to Life Human Rights Center
  32. Rights now – Collective for Democracy
  33. Trincomalee District Women’s Network (TDWN), Trincomalee
  34. Venasa Transgender Network
  35. Women and Media Collective
  36. Women’s Action Network 
  37. Workers Solidarity  Union
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