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Sri Lanka: Threats & Reprisals against HR Lawyer and Jaffna Uni. Senior Lecturer, Kumaravadivel Guruparanly condemned

5th November, 2019.

Statement Condemning Threats, Harassment and Reprisals against Human Rights Lawyer and Jaffna University Senior Lecturer, Kumaravadivel Guruparanly.

We, the undersigned individuals strong condemn the recent threats, harassment and unfair treatment against human rights defender, Kumaravadivel Guruparan, by the Sri Lankan military and University Authorities. Guruparan, is a prominent human rights lawyer and academic based in Jaffna, in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. He is the founder of the Adayalam Center for Policy Research, and is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Law, at the University of Jaffna. He is also a Co-Spokesperson of the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF). On 09 November, 2019, Guruparan was informed by the Jaffna University Council, that he had been barred from private legal practice as per a decision of the University Grants Commission (UGC). We condemn this decision of the UGC, which was instigated by the military, and is aimed at silencing and suppressing Guruparan’s human rights work and legal advocacy.

Over the past decade or more, Guruparan has been a strong voice for human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka. Despite living and working in a highly militarized and hostile context, he has been consistently vocal against the failure of successive Governments to hold those responsible, especially the military, accountable for crimes against civilians.

The restrictions and harassment meted out against Guruparan are direct reprisals against his human rights work. We are deeply concerned at the conduct of the UGC and the University of Jaffna (UoJ), in their treatment of a senior faculty member. Both the UGC and the UoJ are civilian institutions, responsible at least in part, for moulding and guiding generations of university students in this country. In this instance, they have shown a crippling inability to withstand pressure from the military, a trend which threatens dangerous consequences. On 21August, 2019, the military wrote to the UGC questioning the basis on which Guruparan was permitted to practice law in court. Despite there being clear provisions under the University Establishment code under which a faculty member may be permitted to engage in private practice, and the military having no standing whatsoever to question or interfere in internal university matters, the UGC took the surprising decision on 05 September, that Guruparan should no longer be permitted to practice law. The decision of the UGC was communicated to the University of Jaffna which then in turn on 09 November 2019 has decided to ask Guruparan to act according to the UGC directives.

There has been a pattern of threats, intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders, especially those working in the North and East, in the lead up to the November election. Lawyers and activists working on military accountability have been particularly targeted. The recent threats and restrictions against Guruparan are believed to be linked to his representation of victims in the Navatkuli Habeas Corpus case, which relates to the enforced disappearance of 24 boys from military custody in 1996. Following the hearing of the case on 01 August 2019, Guruparan and other lawyers were photographed by unidentified men within the court premises. On 07 August, three officers from the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID) visited the Adayalam Center office and demanded staff details and information about their work. Other lawyers working on the case have also faced similar harassment and intimidation.

We reiterate that the restrictions and harassment against Guruparan are a reprisal against his human rights work. The restrictions on his legal practice is a clear attempt to subvert justice by preventing his cases from being litigated successfully in court. We stand in solidarity with Guruparan and other lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders in the North and East, who face an increasingly tense and restrictive environment.

We also call upon the Judicial Service Commission to take note of the serious implications of such actions by the military, whose members have been named as respondents in the case that Guruparan is representing. Attempts to influence as to who appears on the other side through intimidation and undue influence is a very serious issue affecting the fundamental right to equality before the law and recourse to justice.The Hon. Attorney General who appears for the military must also appropriately advice his clients to desist from such reprehensible behaviour.

In conclusion, we condemn the UGC for aiding the military call on them to rescind the order, and clarify the rights of university legal academics staff to engage in practice.



  1. A. Ragunathan – Independent Activist

  2. Abiramy Sivalogananthan

  3. Alexsandra Rajapouliny

  4. Ameer Faaiz – Attorney-at-Law

  5. Analaxumy Srithas

  6. Angel
  7. Angelica Chandrasekeran

  8. Anithra Varia

  9. Annouchka Wijesinghe

  10. Anparasan Ajitha
  11. Anthony Jesudan

  12. Anthony Vinoth

  13. Anushani Alagarajah
  14. Aravinth Sukumar

  15. Ariyakumar Rathika
  16. Arunthavarasa Keerthika
  17. Asha
  18. Ashila Dandeniya

  19. B. Gowthaman

  20. Baskaralingam Suntharalingam
  21. Bhavani Fonseka – Attorney-at-Law

  22. Binendri Perera

  23. Bisliya Bhoto
  24. C. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-Law

  25. Cayathri Divakalala – Researcher and Activist  

  26. Chandrika De Silva – Freelance Writer

  27. Channaka Jayasinghe

  28. Chintaka Rajapakse

  29. Christopher M. Stubbs PhD. M.B.E. – Founder, MENCAFEP

  30. Darshan
  31. Deanne Uyangoda

  32. Deekshya Illangasinghe

  33. Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah

  34. Dharsha Jegatheeswaran
  35. Dharshini N. Vijayaruban

  36. Dinushika Dissanayake – Attorney-at-Law

  37. Dr. Farzana Haniffa – University of Colombo

  38. Dr. Harini Amarasuriya – Senior Lecturer, Open University of Sri Lanka

  39. Dr. Kalana Senaratne – Senior Lecturer, University of Peradeniya

  40. Dr. Mahendran Thiruvarangan – Lecturer (Probationary), University of Jaffna

  41. Dr. Malathi de Alwis – Visiting Faculty, University of Colombo

  42. Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvananthan PhD – Senior Lecturer (Grade 1), Department of
    Economics, University of Jaffna, & Founder & Principal Researcher, Point Pedro
    Institute of Development, Point Pedro

  43. Dr. P. Lakshman – Consultant Cardiologist, Teaching Hospital Jaffna

  44. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

  45. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne

  46. Dr. Ruvan Weerasinghe – University of Colombo

  47. Dr. S. Kumaravel – Regional Director, Health Services (Acting), Kilinochchi

  48. Dr. S. Mathurahan

  49. Dr. T. Balamurukan

  50. Elil Rajendram

  51. Emil van der Poorten – In defence of human rights

  52. Enthiran Pirarththana

  53. Ephraim Shadrach

  54. Ermiza Tegal – Attorney-at-Law

  55. F. Zackariya – Social Activist and Researcher

  56. Farah Mihlar

  57. Francis Raajan

  58. G. A. Prabath Kumara – Chief Coordinator, Future In Our Hands Development Fund,

  59. Gankeswari

  60. Geethika Dharmasinghe

  61. Gehan Gunatilleke – Attorney-at-Law

  62. Godfrey Malarnesan

  63. Gowsiya

  64. Gowry
  65. Gowshy
  66. Gowtham
  67. Harshana Rambukwella – Open University of Sri Lanka

  68. Hasanah Cegu Isadeen (LLM) – Attorney -at –Law

  69. Herman Kumara

  70. Inestan
  71. Inshira Faliq

  72. Ishan Jalill

  73. Ishara Danasekara

  74. Isuri Kaviratne

  75. Ithayarani Sithravel
  76. J. Jegatheesan

  77. J. Lingham
  78. Jake Oorloff

  79. Jananey Jayaratnarajah

  80. Janarthana Sarma
  81. Jayaroshman Shanmuganathan
  82. Jegatheesan Thayalini

  83. Jehanki Anandha

  84. Jensila Majeed

  85. Jeyabaliny Gobal

  86. Jeyachandran Thurka
  87. Joanne Senn

  88. Juwairiya Mohideen

  89. K.D.M.S. Nilashani

  90. K.J. Brito Fernando

  91. K.S. Ratnavale – Attorney-at-Law

  92. Kalaivanie

  93. Kalani Subasinghe

  94. Kamalavani

  95. Kanagalingam Moganeswary

  96. Kanapathipillai Kumanan
  97. Kanthimathi

  98. Karuppiya Seelan
  99. Kastro
  100. Kathirkamanathan Hemalatha
  101. Kesawarasa Kuyilini
  102. Kirisanth Selvanayagam 
  103. Kirishanth
  104. Kiristina

  105. Kugathasasarma Sarangasarma
  106. Kulanthaivel Sunithrathavi

  107. Kulanthaivel Thavanithy

  108. Kuperan Sivroobi

  109. Kusal Perera – Journalist

  110. Lakmali Hemachandra – Attorney-at-Law

  111. Leeladevi Anandanadarajah

  112. Loretta de Alwis

  113. Luwie Ganeshathasan – Attorney-at-Law

  114. M.A.F. Ajra (LLB hons) – University of Jaffna
  115. M.F.A. Rahman
    1. M.H.M. Hisham

    2. M.N. Asokan

    3. M. Sivakumar

    4. Mahaluxmy Kurushanthan

    5. Mahendiran Nirmala
    6. Mahinathan
    7. Mangaleswary Shanker – Attorney-at-Law

    8. Mario Arulthas

    9. Mario Gomez

    10. Marisa de Silva

    11. Mary
    12. Mathubala

    13. Meerabharathy

    14. Melani Manel Perera – Journalist

    15. Mohan Nagarajah
    16. Monisha
    17. Munza Mushtaq – Journalist
    18. Murugaiya Sivasuthan 
    19. N. Sumanthi

    20. Nagamani Yamuna

    21. Nakamuthu Inpanayakam

    22. Nalaka Gunawardene – Writer

    23. Nallathamby Pirathajini

    24. Navaranjini Sureka Nadarajah

    25. Nicola Perera – University of Colombo

    26. Nigel Nugawela

    27. Nilshan Fonseka

    28. Nirmanusan Balasundaram – Journalist

    29. Nishandeny Ratnam – Attorney-at-Law

    30. Nitharshan
    31. Nithila Mariampillai

    32. P. Nagendhran

    33. P. Selvaratnam – Women for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka

    34. P. Vasanthagowry

    35. P.M. Mujeebur Rahman (LLB)

    36. P.N. Singham

    37. Padma Pushpakanthi 

    38. Pavanna Sena

    39. Pavithra Kailasapathy

    40. Perinparaja Diksala

    41. Periyannan Srikanthy

    42. Piragala

    43. Prabu Deepan

    44. Prasanna Mandalanayagam

    45. Priya Mohan

    46. Priyalal Sirisena

    47. Prof. Ajit Abeysekera

    48. Prof. Arjuna Parakrama – University of Peradeniya

    49. Prof. Ashwini Vasanthakumar

    50. Prof. Prabhath Jayasinghe – University of Colombo

    51. Prof. Priyan Dias – University of Moratuwa

    52. Puvenesvary

    53. Qadri Ismail

    54. Rajany Chandrasegaram
    55. Rajaretnam Sureniya

    56. Ratnasarma
    57. Rev. Fr. Aloysius Pieris, S.J.

    58. Rev. Fr. Jeevantha Peiris

    59. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
    60. Rev. Fr. M. V. E. Ravichandran

    61. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga

    62. Rev. Fr. Rohan Dominic

    63. Rev. Fr. S.D.P. Selvan

    64. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

    65. Rev. Fr. Terence Fernando

    66. Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
    67. Rev. Fr. Vincent CMF

    68. Rev. M. Jude Sutharshan

    69. Rev. Nandana Saparamadu – Diocese of Colombo

    70. Rev. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel

    71. Rev. Sr. Noel Christine Fernando

    72. Rev. Sr. Rasika Pieris HF

    73. Riza Yehiya

    74. Rohini
    75. Rohini Hensman (Writer, Researcher and Activist)

    76. Roshani
    77. Ruki Fernando

    78. S. Prasila

    79. S. Pratheepan

    80. S. Thanujan – Joint Secretary, Mass Movement for Social Justice, Jaffna

    81. S.G. Nishanthini – Women’s Rights Activist

    82. Sabra Zahid

    83. Sadathavi Nagalingam

    84. Sahayam Thilipan – Coordinator, Forum for Affected Families, Mannar

    85. Sakthvel Jeya

    86. Sakuntala Kadirgamar

    87. Sampath Samarakoon – Editor, www.vikalpa.org

    88. Sandun Thudugala

    89. Sanjana Hattotuwa – Founding Editor of Groundviews

    90. Sanjayan Rajasingham

    91. Sankhitha Gunaratne

    92. Sarah Arumugam

    93. Saseestkanth Pathmarajah
    94. Sathiyaseelan Nithika
    95. Sellathurai Sivathasan

    96. Selvanathan Thakeeran

    97. Selvaraj Rajasegar

    98. Selvaranie

    99. Selvarasa Thileepan
    100. Shaanu
    101. Shalomi Daniel

    102. Sham
    103. Shamala Kumar – University of Peradeniya

    104. Shamara Wettimuny – University of Oxford

    105. Shambath

    106. Shamila Rathnasooriya

    107. Shan Nalliah

    108. Shanil Wijesinha – Attorney-at-Law

    109. Sheila Richards

    110. Shivantha Rathnayake

    111. Shreen Saroor

    112. Sinaththambi Seetha

    113. Sinnathurai Ketheeswary
    114. Sinthuka Vivekananthan
    115. Sivam Prabaharan – Coordinator, Up-Country Social Research Centre

    116. Sivarasa Mariyarosalin
    117. Sritharan Eswary 
    118. Sritharan Kopika
    119. Subha Wijesiriwardena – Women and Media Collective (WMC)

    120. Sugi Thiru
    121. Sunanda Deshapriya – Sri Lanka Brief

    122. Sutha
    123. Swasthika Arulingam – Attorney-at-Law

    124. Tanuja Thurairajah

    125. Tasha Manoranjan

    126. Thambirasa Selvarani

    127. Thamotharampillai Suganthini

    128. Thanuja Mathavarasa
    129. Tharmika Sivarajah – Attorney-at-Law
    130. Tharshan Selvam 
    131. Thasan
    132. Thava Sagaym Ranjana

    133. Thayaparan Kanistan
    134. Theepshi
    135. Thenmoli
    136. Thiagi Piyadasa – Attorney-at-Law

    137. Thiyagaraja Waradas – University of Colombo

    138. Thurka Krishnasamy

    139. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana

    140. Ushananthini

    141. V. Inthrani

    142. Vanie Simon

    143. Vanitha Mahendran

    144. Vasuky Rajendra

    145. Vinayagamoorthi Thivviya

    146. Vipitha Sagari

    147. Vipulan Shanmini
    148. Viraj Kalinga – Social Activist

    149. Vraie Cally Balthazaar

    150. Yajna Sanguhan

    151. Yalini Dream

    152. Yamini Ravindran


    1. Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research

    2. Affected Womens’ Forum (AWF)

    3. Alliance Development Trust (ADT)

    4. Centre for Community Development Movement

    5. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)

    6. Centre for Justice and Change (CJC)

    7. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

    8. Families of the Disappeared (FoD)

    9. Human Rights Office (HRO), Kandy

    10. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)

    11. Jaffna Sangam – LGBTQ Community

    12. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF)

    13. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR)

    14. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)

    15. Praja Abhilasha Network 

    16. Right to Life (R2L) Human Rights Centre

    17. Sri Lanka Campaign (SLC)

    18. Vallamai – Movement for Social Change

    19. Women’s Action Network (WAN)


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