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Sri Lanka: Online Petitions Against Intimidation of Prominent Activists and Journalists

by sacw.net, 23 October 2012

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Contents:
1. Stop Targetting Sri Lankan Human Rights Activists [regarding safety of Sunila Abeysekera and her targeted colleagues]
2. Sri Lanka: Public threats and harassment against human rights defender Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu


1. Online Petition:
Stop Targetting Sri Lankan Human Rights Activists

To: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sponsored by: Kiri Westby, Urgent Action Fund For Women’s Human Rights

On 17 March 2012, Sunila Abeysekera, a prominent Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender, was branded as working for the LTTE in an article published on the State-sponsored Lanka C News website. There were disturbing comments made by the readers, including calls for her to be killed and her house burnt to the ground.

Sunila is still unable to return to Sri Lanka or be reunited with her family. By adding your name to this petition you will be sending a strong message to the Sri Lankan government that it cannot threaten and harass activists with impunity. Let them know that the world is paying attention to the future and safety of Sunila Abeysekera and her targeted colleagues working for human rights in Sri Lanka.

 Thank you!

Sign the above petition at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/958/025/547/stop-targetting-sri-lankan-human-rights-activists/

SEE ALSO:

Brutality and Violence Escalate in Sri Lanka: Prominent Activists and Journalists Targeted by Kiri Westby

"What does it mean to call a country democratic when government critics are exiled and branded terrorists? Who decides what is patriotic and what is not? Whose voices are actually being heard? Whose rights are really being protected?" — Sunila Abeysekera, Prominent Sri Lankan Human Rights Activist.
[. . .]
Full Text at: Huffington Post, 22 October 2012

2. Frontline Defenders

Sri Lanka: Public threats and harassment against human rights defender Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

Please take action on behalf of Sri Lanka human rights defender Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.

Copy the enclosed text and send it to the address provided.

Thank you for taking action on behalf of Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.
Target adresses:

President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
Office of the President
Republic Square,
Colombo 01,
Sri Lanka

Letter:

Your Excellency,

On 15 October 2012, posters containing a threat to human rights defender Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu appeared in Colombo and surrounding areas. Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is the executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a non-governmental organisation which carries out research and advocacy for public policy that promotes non-violent conflict resolution and strengthens democratic governance.

On the morning of 15 October 2012, posters appeared in the environs of Colombo containing a message in Sinhala. Translated, the message reads: “Let us save the pro-people Divineguma Act, which builds the lives of fifteen lakhs [1,500,000] of low income families, from the Paikiasothy gang that aids and abets the separation of the country.” The poster refers to a bill currently in the process of being enacted. Dr Saravanamuttu and CPA have filed petitions to challenge the bill, as they are concerned that in a number of areas its provisions could be unconstitutional. As a result, the bill is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

On the same morning the posters appeared, the CPA offices in Colombo were visited by military personnel. The military personnel reportedly offered a vague pretext of having been informed the CPA’s address was linked to the Elections Department, which was being investigated by these military persons. In a statement, the CPA has said they are as yet unsure whether the two events are linked, or why the military would be involved in such inquiries at all.

These threats are the latest incident in a long pattern of harassment and threats directed at Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu. In March 2012, a smear campaign by state-affiliated newspapers, TV and radio stations and news websites was launched against him and three other human rights defenders when they attended the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where they spoke of human rights abuses committed in Sri Lanka. These media outlets repeatedly accused the human rights defenders of treason, affiliation with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and of receiving money from abroad to work against the interests of the country. This smear campaign included one event during a public rally on 23 March 2012 where a member of the national government, Minister of Public Relations Mr Meryn Silva, threatened the human rights defenders with physical harm if they set foot in Sri Lanka, reportedly saying: “I will publicly break the limbs of people like Sunanda Deshapriya, Nimalka Fernando and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu who lobbied against their own country”.

I am seriously concerned about this latest incident against Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and the CPA, especially in the light of the official or state-sanctioned nature of some of these threats. The CPA has identified an increasingly menacing climate of open hostility and stigmatisation on the part of the government toward critical voices in civil society.

I urge the authorities in Sri Lanka to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threat against human rights defender Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of the abovementioned human rights defender and his family, as well as that of all members of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA);

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions, including harassment and intimidation by state officials and state-affiliated media.

Yours Sincerely,