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Civil society urges government to stop hate campaigns and protect human rights defenders

21 March 2012,
In the backdrop of the resolution on Sri Lanka being discussed in Geneva and the expected vote on the resolution this week, the Sri Lanka Government and its propaganda teams have intensified an extremely malicious hate campaign against human rights defenders who express their views on accountability and governance issues in Sri Lanka.

In particular, government media units have constantly attacked Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Dr. Nimalka Fernando, Ms. Sunila Abeysekera, Mr. Sunanda Deshapriya and Mr. J. C. Weliamuna calling them traitors, inciting extremist elements to attack them and as a result, making them vulnerable to physical attacks. Photo images of other press freedom activists such as Mr. Rohitha Bashana Abeygoonawardena, Mr. Sanath Balasooriya and Mr. Poddala Jayantha have also been shown in government media programmes.

The present series of attacks have directly accused these human rights defenders of supporting the LTTE, of receiving money from the Tamil diaspora and of working against the interests of the country to obtain “dollars”. The present attacks follow on from previous attacks by Government ministers and government media on the Free Media Movement, press freedom activists and the Bishop of Mannar.

1 We note that none of these defenders, all of whom are presently or in the recent past been resident in Sri Lanka, have been legally charged in Sri Lanka. In fact, the Minister of Media has said that these are activities against which the legal framework of the country does not allow the government to file charges.”

2 The same Minister, it is reported, has further said that those that bring the country into disrepute will not be forgiven by the nation3 implying that a system of “justice” exists outside the established legal framework.

3 Ironically, these hate campaigns have come at a time when UN experts on human rights defenders are calling on governments to take steps to facilitate, rather than deter, civil society’s safe and unimpeded access to the UN.

4 The President of the Human Rights Council, Ms. Laura Dupuy Lasserre, has expressed her concern about reports of State and other representatives using aggressive and/or insulting language against civil society representatives participating in the Council deliberations with a view to intimidate and harass them.

5 We observe that such malicious attacks are carefully orchestrated by the authorities with the clear objective of deviating attention elsewhere when the human rights record of the government is being challenged nationally and internationally.

We, therefore, urge the President and Government to take immediate action to stop these attacks and ensure the safety of human rights defenders whether they engage in national level processes and/or in inter-governmental processes such as the UN Human Rights Council.


1. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
 2. Rev. Fr. M. Sathivel
 3. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
 4. Rev. Fr.V.Yogeswaran, s.j.
 5. Rev. Fr. S. Maria Anthony, s.j.
 6. Rev, Fr. Jeevaraj, s.j.
 7. Rev. Fr. Antonthas Morais, s.j.
 8. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
 9. Rev. Fr. Elil Rajan
 10. Rev. Fr. Everest Dias
 11. Rev. Fr. Bernard I. Alphonsus, Ex-Chairman, Justice and Peace Commission of Jaffna Diocese
 12. Mr. Udaya Kalupathirana, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
 13. Mr. Shantha Pathirana, Association of Family Members of Disappeared
 14. Mr. Joseph Stalin, Ceylon Teachers Union
 15. Mr. S. Sivagurunathan, Movement for Defense of Democratic Rights
 16. Mr. Somapala Kandawinna, Movement for Defense of Democratic Rights
 17. Mr. Wasantha Dissanayake, Movement for Defense of Democratic Rights
 18. Mr. Mahinda Hatthaka, Movement for Defense of Democratic Rights
 19. Mr. T. M. G. Wimal Fernando, Adviser –MDDR
 20. Mr. Hans Billimoria, The Grassrooted Trust
 21. Mr. Siva Pragasam, Workers’ Solidarity Union & Citizens’ Watch Network
 22. Mr. Manjula Pathiraja, Attorney at Law, Free March
 23. Mr. Gonneratne Wanninayake, Attorney at Law, Free March
 24. Mr. Namal Rajapakse, Attorney at Law, Free March
 25. Mr. Priyaranjana Jayasinghe, Attorney at Law, Free March
 26. Mr. Ainslie Joseph, Convener of the Christian Alliance for Social Action
 27. Ms. Nalini, Woman Human Rights Defender, Batticaloa
 28. Ms. Shanthi A Satchithananthan, CEO, Viluthu
 29. Mr. Chandra Kumarage, Lawyers for Democracy
 30. Mr. Lal Wijenayake, Lawyers for Democracy
 31. Ms. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, EQUAL GROUND
 32. Mr. K.S.Ratnavale, Director, Centre for Human Rights and Development
 33. Mr. K.J. Brito Fernando, Families of the Disappeared
 34. Mr. Philip Dissanayaka, Right to Life Human Right Center
 35. Mr. Udaya Edirimanna, CMEV
 36. Mr. D.M. Dissanayake, CMEV
 37. Mr. Jagath Liyanaarachchi, CMEV
 38. Mr. Sunil Jayasekera, Free Media Movement of Sri Lanka
 39. Mr. Kumara Alagiyawanna – Journalist/Free Media Movement
 40. Mr. Dharmasiri Lankapeli, General Secretary, Federation of Media Employees’ Trade Unions
 41. Mr. Kusal Perera, Journalist
 42. Ms. Melani Manel Perera, Christian Women Journalist
 43. Ms. Seetha Ranjanee – Free lance Journalist
 44. Mr. T Jayasingam, Eastern University
 45. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne, University of Kelaniya
 46. Ms. Bhavani Fonseka, Attorney at Law
 47. Mr. Lakshan Dias, Attorney at Law
 48. Mr. Sampath Pushpakumara, Attorney at Law
 49. Prof. Kumar David
 50. Dr. Philip Sethunga
 51. Dr. Mario Gomez
 52. Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan
 53. Dr. Devanesan Nesiah
 54. Mr. Lakshman Gunasekara
 55. Ms. Sharmini Boyle
 56. Ms. Hana Ibrahim
 57. Mr. Shan Wijethunge
 58. Mr. Thaha Muzammil
 59. Mr. Freddy Gamage
 60. Ms. Dilhara Pathirana
 61. Ms. Deanne Uyangoda
 62. Ms. D.I. Wickremesekera
 63. Ms. Chulani Kodikara
 64. Ms. Maryanne Mendis
 65. Ms. Paba Menkie
 66. Ms. Dulani Kulasinghe
 67. Ms. Shreen Saroor
 68. Ms. Priya Thangaraja
 69. Ms. Jovita Arulanatham
 70. Ms. Jenzila Majeed
 71. Mr. Nilshan Fonseka
 72. Mr. Mirak Raheem
 73. Mr. Lanka Nesiah
 74. Mr. Ruki Fernando
 75. Mr. P. N. Singham
 76. Mr. Lionel Guruge
 77. Mr. Sanjana Hattotuwa
 78. Mr. Suresh Kumar
 79. Mr. Nigel V. Nugawela

1 See http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/8602 and http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/9414

2 See http://www.ceylontoday.lk/news-detail.php?news_id=2001&news_category_id=163

See Dinmina, Sinhalese newspaper at http://www.dinamina.lk/2012/01/26/_art.asp?fn=p1201261

4 See http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11954&LangID=E

5 See http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=11957&LangID=E

21st March 2012


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