NGOs for an Effective Human Rights Council

In the News:

National and International Media on Sri Lanka's Human Rights Record

  • National Media on Why Sri Lanka Doesn’t Belong on the UN Human Rights Council
  • National Media on Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka
  • International Media on Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka
National Media: Why Sri Lanka Doesn’t belong on the Human Rights council  
From: “Human rights canards and review of Sri Lankan performance.” Daily Mirror, March 26, 2008:  
“There is no doubt in our minds that the [Government of Sri Lanka] has clearly failed to meet the standards the General Assembly set for members of the Human Rights Council in establishing that body two years ago.”  
“Rather than promote human rights worldwide as required of Council members by GA Resolution 60/251, Sri Lanka in fact is using its Council membership to protect itself from criticism, particularly any resolution which would address the human rights situation in Sri Lanka"  
From: “The Canary sings a Different Tune." Sunday Times, April 27, 2008:  
“If the Mahinda Rajapaksa government wishes to stand aloof from the United Nations structure, it must do so without demur. . . . it cannot heap ill advised scorn on United Nations bodies (including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), allow its politicians to refer to the under secretary of the United Nations as a 'terrorist', allow its diplomats and government officers to engage in vitriolic verbal exchanges . . . and then cannily profess itself to be in keeping with the policies and spirit of the United Nations while campaigning for seats on the Council.”  
National Media: Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka  
From: "From the Tiger’s Den to an Open Prison.” Groundviews, April 19, 2008:  
“People fleeing the dangers and difficulties in Vanni are wondering  
whether they had jumped from the frying pan to the fire, as the government had decided to imprison them in an ‘open prison’ in Kallimoddai, Mannar. . . ‘We came to escape the LTTE. But we have been deceived by the government’ said one women in tears.”
From: “From Dusk Til Dawn.” Daily Mirror, April 18, 2008:  
“35 days have passed since Logeswaran’s sister was forcibly taken away from him. . . . He also remains confused as to how his sister could be abducted when the area he is residing in is heavily guarded by the security forces. . . . ‘ I hear my sister’s voice, her cries and her sobbing all the time, continuously,’ Logeswaran said.”  
“[P]arents said that they were afraid to sleep at night, fearing that very soon their daughters would be taken away from them. . . . Sources from the Human Rights Commission said that although this issue had been bought to the notice of the relevant authorities, they remained silent, leaving the family members of those abducted without any hope.”  
From: “Treasurer of Sri Lanka media watchdog threatened for ransom.” Colombo Page, April 19, 2008:  
“Sri Lanka’s media watchdog Free Media Movement yesterday said its Treasurer, journalist K. Rushangan has received threats demanding a payment of a ransom or face being abducted. In a statement the FMM said that Rushangan, who is the Editor of the Tamil language news and information website and the Tamil journal Saamadana Nokku (Peace Monitor) published by the Center for Policy Alternatives, has received threats demanding the payment of a ransom before 25th April 2008 or face being abducted.”  
International Media: Human Rights Abuses in Sri Lanka  
From: "Sri Lanka rights activists face growing dangers." Reuters Alertnet, April 18, 2008:  
“In August 2007, gunmen walked into the home of Tamil journalist Sahadhevan Nilakshan and sprayed him with bullets, killing him on the spot. . . . Even when lives are spared, repercussions often follow. . . journalists face possible arrest. Their offices are raided by security personnel and they are quite often taken in for questioning by police.”  
“Sri Lankan police used anti-terror laws to arrest and detain J.S. Tissanayagam, a prominent journalist working for The Sunday Times, a mainstream English-language weekly. After two weeks behind bars he was finally served a detention order charging him with engaging in terrorist activities, which today in Sri Lanka can be interpreted as criticising the government. . . . human rights defenders have increasingly been targets of killings, disappearances, abductions, arrest and detention. They live and work in a climate of fear.”  
From: "Sri Lanka's disappeared: Gang demands Tamil exiles pay ransom for kidnapped relatives." The Independent, April 6, 2008:  
“The Karuna Faction are kidnapping young Sri Lankan men in Colombo as a business enterprise and targeting the same diaspora the Tamil Tigers have been milking.  
The trouble is, the Karuna are now an extension of the Sri Lankan army."
- Tamil Native interviewed by The Independent  
From: “Dark Days in Paradise.” The Sydney Morning Herald, June 30, 2007:  
“[Tamil journalists] face extreme risks when their reportage is critical of either side. . .‘We have lost five staff in the last 18 months,’ [Editor of a Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper] said. ‘I have had grenades tossed into my room, but I am ready for anything’”  
“One senior public servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said abduction and secret murder have become institutionalised in Sri Lanka. ‘We have security forces and police who have done this thing before. . . . They've improved on it now, they have perfected it. . . . now you find bodies without heads or hands [to prevent identification].’”  
From: “Ethnic Divide Worsens as SL Conflict Escalates.” New York Times, March 8, 2008:  
“Anxiety prevails [among ethnic Tamils], sometimes panic. They say they stay off the streets in the evenings for fear of arrest or abduction. . . . Tamil neighborhoods are raided at night. Few people are willing to speak their minds, for fear that any criticism of the war effort will be construed as support for the rebels, or worse, that they will be detained under stringent emergency laws.”  
From: “Sri Lanka’s Scars Trace Lines of War without End.” New York Times, June 15, 2007:  
“Journalists, diplomats and aid workers [in Sri Lanka] face hostile scrutiny for any criticism of the security forces. On a Sunday morning in April, a young reporter for a Tamil-language newspaper in Jaffna was shot and killed as he rode his bicycle to work. In May, fliers appeared at Jaffna University, containing a hit list of people accused of being rebel sympathizers.”  
“A new fear also stalks Jaffna, more ominous than any its people recall from the past: mysterious abductions usually carried out during the curfew hours. . . . Sometimes, bodies turn up on the street. More oft en, they do not turn up at all. . . . Occasionally, someone survives to tell of the horror. In January, a university student named Arunagirinathan Niruparaj was plucked from his village, taken to what he later identified as a series of military camps and interrogated about links to the rebels. He said his captors hung him upside down from the ceiling and beat his feet. They covered his head with a plastic bag soaked in gasoline. They rammed a stick into his anus. After seven days, they left him on the side of a railway track. By then, he was experiencing kidney failure, one of his ears was damaged and he could not keep down any food. . . No one has been arrested for his kidnapping.”  
From: “Fear of Being ‘Disappeared’: Government Offensive Against Tamil Rebels Also Claims Civilian Victims.” Washington Post, April 1, 2008:  
“[U]nder a recent military offensive to wipe out [the] rebels, government forces have abducted hundreds of members of the Tamil minority group, including civilians, according to human rights groups. Many of the "disappeared" never turn up again. . . . Sometimes Tamil men of fighting age are rounded up at checkpoints, hurried into white vans and never heard from again. Sometimes they are arrested with little explanation in house-to-house raids at night.”  
From: “Sri Lanka Torture Case Lesson for Thailand." UPI Asia, April 10, 2008:  
“Police in Wattala picked up Gerald Perera on June 3, 2002.  
They took the 39-year-old to their station, strung him from a beam and beat him with iron rods and wooden poles for about an hour in an effort to get him to confess to a murder. They had the wrong man. . . . But by the time that he was released he had suffered renal failure. . . . In April 2003 the Supreme Court found that Gerald had been beaten to within inches of his life while in custody. It said that the police accounts of what had happened were unsatisfactory and noted that three officers had admitted to using force during the arrest. . . . Gerald prepared to testify again, this time in the case that the prosecutor had lodged under Sri Lanka's anti-torture law, which carries a mandatory seven-year jail term. He never spoke. On Nov. 21, 2004, a gunman shot him on a city bus. He died in hospital three days later. The police were implicated in his murder and a new inquiry opened, but by 2006 still no dates had been fixed to begin hearings. Meanwhile, the torture case dragged on until last week, when it had an unexpected finale. The high court acknowledged that Gerald had suffered his injuries inside the Wattala police station, but reasoned that because there were no witness testimonies of torture, the accused could not be found guilty.”