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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Joint appeal to Diplomatic Community: Call on the Govt of Sri Lanka to stop repression and to release IUSF leaders

15th November, 2022.

Dear Ambassadors/High Commissioners,

Re: Call on the GoSL to stop repression against peaceful protesters and unconditionally Release IUSF student leaders held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions and human rights activists from Sri Lanka, unequivocally condemn the violent repression of dissent by the Sri Lankan State, and the blatant denial of the people’s freedoms of expression and association.

Sri Lankan authorities have responded to peaceful protests and legitimate demands for a responsible and accountable government, through violence and legal reprisals. We are concerned by the systematic use of force to disperse and punish protesters, and legal persecution, including arbitrary arrest and detention as a form of reprisal. We are especially alarmed by the use of anti-terror law – the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) against protesters, despite assurances to the international community of a moratorium on its use.  Wasantha Mudalige, the  Convenor of the Inter University Student Federation (IUSF) and Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma, Convenor of the Inter University Bhikku  Federation (IUBF) have been detained for almost 90 days without charge and recourse to bail under the PTA.  Families and lawyers of the detained students have repeatedly raised concerns regarding their inhumane detention conditions, which are unsanitary, unsafe and have impacted their health. Young student activist of the IUSF, Hashan Jeewantha, who was arrested along with Mudalige and Ven. Siridhamma on 18 August, 2022, was unconditionally released on 07 October (having spent 50 days in detention,) without any charges against him.

United Nations special procedures including the mandates on Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Defenders, and international human rights organisations, in responding to the State of repression on protesters and the shrinking civic space in the country.

We appreciate your  support in demanding for the immediate release of Wasantha Mudalige and Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma, by the Government of Sri Lanka, prior to the expiry of their detention orders on 18 November, 2022. We call on the international community to ensure an end to this targeted persecution of student leaders and activists, and that there be no extension to their  90 day detention order under the PTA.

We maintain that all engagement with Sri Lanka must be based on clear and transparent human rights benchmarks – this includes trade and financial engagement in order to ensure real transformation and prevent recurrence.

The IUSF, along with trade unions, professionals and civil society groups, have made a crucial contribution to the recent peoples’ uprising that forced the previous President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance to resign from their positions. With the high inflation and deepening economic crisis, people have been continuously protesting over the unbearable rise in the price of goods and services, bad governance, corruption and a lack of State accountability. Protesters are also calling for an immediate end to State repression which has escalated under the Presidency of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Protesters have been able to garner the support of the international community, who played a vital role in ensuring pressure on the Government of Sri Lanka, for its conduct leading to the economic crisis, but also on reprisals against peaceful dissent. We appreciate the oversight and engagement of the diplomatic community, United Nations special procedures including the mandates on Freedom of Expression, Human Rights Defenders, and international human rights organisations, in responding to the State of repression on protesters and the shrinking civic space in the country. In this light, we believe that your support in strengthening the voice of the protesters in demanding the release of student leaders, Wasantha Mudalige and Ven. Siridhamma himi, is crucial to fulfilling the people’s expectations to preserve democratic values. We also would like to reiterate that even though that certain parties in the international community hold the favourable disposition towards President Wickremesinghe and his proposed plan to resolve the current economic crisis, his unscrupulous schemes to suppress public protests, restrict peoples’ freedoms of expression and association should never be condoned.

In a time of economic, social and political crisis, we are further concerned that the Government’s actions against its people will hinder the GSP+ concession which is up for review next year. We maintain that all engagement with Sri Lanka must be based on clear and transparent human rights benchmarks – this includes trade and financial engagement in order to ensure real transformation and prevent recurrence. Government attempts to label and criminalize citizen protests through mis/dis information, and to shift the blame for the imminent loss of the GSP+ on protesters and ordinary citizens, is disingenuous and must not be accepted. The Government must accept and withdraw its repressive mandate, impunity and corruption, which has led to the economic crisis.

We, as civil society organisations, continue to advocate for the repeal of the PTA in any form, which is being used now 13 years after the end of the war. We believe that this draconian law has been deliberately misused to violate the rights and freedoms of the people of Sri Lanka, particularly to repress the Tamil and Muslim minorities and curtail dissent, specifically the voices that may be critical against the government. According to the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), there are 127 detainees in total, detained under the PTA to date, and a further 11 persons have died in custody.[1]

Therefore, we call on Your Excellency, to support our struggle to protect rights and freedoms in Sri Lanka.  Your support is an important contribution to the work being done on the ground by civil society, student movements, unions and ordinary citizens. We further request your support in calling on the Government of Sri Lanka to immediately end suppression on the fundamental rights of Sri Lankans, and all forms of harassment and intimidation against protesters, the release of those detained under the PTA as well as the repeal of this draconian law. 

 

Signed by;

Individuals

  1. Ajitha
  2. M.S.D. Perera
  3. Amali Wedagedara
  4. Amalini de Sayrah
  5. Angelica Chandrasekeran – Holistic Therapist & Metaphysical Counselor
  6. Anithra Varia
  1.      Anthony Vinoth – Human Rights Activist
  1. Anuratha Rajaretnam
  2. Anushaya Collure
  3. Ashila Dandeniya
  4. Gowthaman
  5. Sukitha
  6. Bhavani Fonseka
  7. Bishop Duleep de Chickera – Member, Anglican Church of Sri Lanka
  8. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  9. Buddhima Padmasiri – Attorney-at-Law
  10. Caryll Tozer – Environmental and Women and Child Rights Activist
  11. Chamila Thushari
  12. Chandra Devanarayana
  13. Channaka Jayasinghe
  14. Chintaka Rajapakse
  15. Christine Perera – Activist
  16. G.N.U.K. Jayarathna
  17. Damaris Wickremesekera
  18. Deanne Uyangoda
  19. Deekshya Illangasinghe
  20. Devika Kodithuwakku
  21. Dhammika Munasinghe
  22. Dhanusha Pathirana
  23. Dharmasiri Lankapeli – Chairperson, Socialist People’s Forum
  24. Dilrukshi Handunnetti – Journalist and Attorney-at-Law
  25. Dinushika Dissanayake
  26. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
  27. Ranil D. Guneratne
  28. Dulan de Silva
  29. Duminda Nagamuwa
  30. Ephraim Shadrach
  31. Ermiza Tegal – Attorney-at-Law
  32. Francis Costa Priyankara
  33. Gamini Akmeemana
  34. Gamini Sisira Kumara
  35. Gayathri Gamage
  36. Geethika Dharmasinghe – Visiting Professor, Colgate University
  37. Godfrey Yogarajah
  38. Gratian A. Peiris – Transformation Facilitator
  39. Hemamali Abeyrathna
  40. Herman Kumara
  41. Ian Ferdinands
  42. Thayalini
  43. A.N.N.P. Fernando – Accountant & Social Activist
  44. B. Gurusinghe
  45. Jayalath Perera
  46. Jayani Abeysekara – Human Rights Activist
  47. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
  48. Joanne Senn
  49. Joseph Stalin
  50. Hemalatha
  51. Nihal Ahamed
  52. Saththiyaseelan
  53. J. Brito Fernando
  54. Kalpa Munasinghe
  55. Lakshman Gunasekara – President, Sri Lanka Chapter, South Asian Free Media Association
  56. Lasantha de Silva
  1.      Lucille Abeykoon
  1. Nirmalathevi
  2. Sitralega – Independent Feminist Researcher, Batticaloa
  3. Mario Arulthas
  4. Mario Gomez
  5. Marisa de Silva
  6. Marx Prabhagar
  7. Mayura Senanayaka
  8. Mirak Raheem – Researcher and Activist
  9. Arththigan
  10. Nabeela Iqbal
  11. Nadishani Perera
  12. Nagulan Nesiah
  13. Natasha Vanhoff
  14. Nilshan Fonseka
  15. Muthulingam
  16. Pushpalatha
  17. G. Gamage – Human Rights Activist
  18. N. Singham
  19. Padma Pushpakanthi
  20. Pasan Jayasinghe
  21. Peter Rezel – Management Consultant
  22. Philip Dissanayake
  23. Philip Setunga
  24. Prabodha Rathnayaka – Attorney-at-Law
  25. Puni Selvaratnam – Women for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka
  26. Kounthini
  27. Ranjan
  28. Rajany Rajeshwary
  29. Rajkumar Rajeevkanth
  30. Ranjan Senanayake
  31. Rekha Nilukshi
  32. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
  33. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
  34. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel
  35. Rohini Hensman – Writer and Researcher
  36. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera
  37. Rosel Sameera
  38. Ruki Fernando
  39. Ruwan Laknath Jayakody – Writer
  40. Amarasinghe
  41. Easwarai
  42. Ethayarani
  43. Mariyarosalin
  44. Mohana Dharshiny
  45. Niththi
  46. Tharsan
  47. Thileepan
  48. C.C. Elankovan
  49. T. Ganeshalingam
  50. Sabra Zahid
  51. Sakuntala Kadirgamar
  52. Sampath Samarakoon
  53. Sandun Thudugala
  54. Sarah Arumugam – Attorney-at-Law
  55. Sarala Emmanuel
  56. Sarath Karunadasa
  57. Saroj Pathirana – Journalist, “Sandeshaya by Saroj”
  58. Sathivel Visvalinam
  59. Sheila Richards
  60. Shreen Saroor
  61. Shyam Pathiraja
  62. Shyamala Gomez
  63. Sirithunga Jayasooriya – General Secretary, United Socialist Party
  64. Srinath Perera – Attorney-at-Law
  65. Subathra Yogasingham
  66. Suchith Abeyewickreme – Civic Activist
  67. Sunanda Deshapriya
  68. Swasthika Arulingam
  69. V. Sankha Ranadheera
  70. Tempitiye Sugathananda himi
  71. Tharindu Jayawardhana
  72. Tharindu Uduwaragedara
  73. Thilak Kariyawasam
  74. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
  75. Tisaranee Gunasekara
  76. Upul Wickramasinghe – Durham University
  77. Mahenderan – National Organiser, New Democratic Marxist-Leninist Party
  78. Shamini
  79. Sinthuka
  80. Vaas Gunawardena
  81. Viraj Abayarathna
  82. Visakha Tillekeratne
  83. Wasantha Karunatilake
  84. Wijepala Weerakoon
  85. B. Jayasekara
  86. Yamini Ravindran – Attorney-at-Law

 

 

 

Organisations/Unions/Networks

  1. All Employee Union of Information and Telecommunication
  2. Alliance Development Trust
  3. Alliance for Minorities
  4. Ampara District Alliance for Land Rights (ADALR)
  5. Centre for Equality and Justice (CEJ)
  6. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
  7. Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union
  8. Ceylon Teachers’ Union
  9. Collective for Progressive Unity
  10. Commercial & Industrial Workers Union (CIWU)
  11. Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners (CPRP)
  12. Community Welfare and Development Fund
  13. Dabindu Collective
  14. Equal Ground
  15. Families of the Disappeared (FoD)
  16. Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions
  17. FIAN Sri Lanka
  18. Forum for a Plural Democracy
  19. Free Media Movement (FMM)
  20. Free Trade Union Centre
  21. Free Women
  22. Government Midwife Services Union
  23. Human Elevation Organization (HEO)
  24. Human Rights Office, Kandy
  25. Institute of Social Development (ISD)
  26. Insurance General Employees Union
  27. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
  28. Joint Development Officers Center
  29. Joint Engineering Corporation Employees Union
  30. Joint Health Workers Union
  31. Joint Railway Employees Union
  32. Joint Teachers Service Union
  33. Joint Water Supply Workers Union
  34. Justice for Victims
  35. Lanka Progressive Teachers Union
  36. Law and Society Trust (LST)
  37. Lawyers Forum for the People
  38. Liberation Movement
  39. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF)
  40. Mass Movement for Social Justice (MMSJ)
  1.      Maynmai
  1. Media Law Forum (MLF)
  2. Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)
  3. Movement for Plantation Peoples’ Land Rights (MPPLR)
  4. Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum (MWRAF)
  5. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO)
  6. National Trade Protection Council
  1.      People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL)
  1. Plantation Workers Centre
  2. Praja Abhilasha Network
  3. Private Sector Employees Centre
  4. Professional Center for People
  5. Protect Union
  6. Revolutionary Experience of Human Development (RED)
  7. Right to Life (R2L) Human Rights Centre
  8. Rule of Law Forum
  9. Satahan Media
  10. Savisthri National Women’s Movement
  11. Sisterhood Initiative
  12. Social Institute for Development of Plantation Sector (SIDPS)
  13. Sri Lanka All Telecommunication Employees Union (SLATEU)
  14. Sri Lanka Nature Group (SLNG)
  15. Standup Movement Lanka
  16. Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL)
  17. United Federation of Labour (UFL)
  18. United General Services Union
  19. Upcountry Civil Society Collective (UCSC)
  20. Vallamai Movement for Social Change, Jaffna
  21. Women’s Action Network (WAN)
  22. Women’s Action for Social Justice
  23. Women’s Liberation Thought Organisation
  24. Workers Struggle Center
  25. Young Journalists Association (YJA)
  26. Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)
  1.      YOUTH FOR CHEnge

[1] Terrorist Investigation Division of Police, Sri Lanka has released the information of the total number detained under PTA, https://twitter.com/ambikasat/status/1589831742181249024?t=ozgt2SMqAs9oDHVhPmjP_g&s=19

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