VIII. Freedom of Expression and Association

Article 14 of the Sri Lankan constitution enshrines the rights to freedom of speech, assembly, association, and movement. However, since 2006 the government has increasingly intimidated and tried to silence the media, NGOs, and others with independent or dissenting views of government military and human rights policies. It has dismissed critics of the government’s military strategy as allies of the LTTE and traitors of the state. Shortly after the government enacted the Emergency Regulations of 2006, President Rajapaksa gave a speech in which he equated opposition to the government’s war efforts as support for the LTTE and terrorism:

I ask this of all political parties, all media, and all people’s organizations. You decide whether you should be with a handful of terrorists or with the common man who is in the majority. You must clearly choose between these two sides.161

Journalists and NGO activists in particular found these words chilling given the new Emergency Regulations, which broadly criminalize “aiding and abetting the LTTE.” Two weeks later, on December 20, 2006, two senior journalists from The Sunday Observer, Ranga Jayasurya and Lionel Yodasinghe, were summoned to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Division of the police and questioned under the newly enacted counterterrorism regulations.162

The government has created an environment in which criticism of government policies has left the media and activist groups vulnerable to arrest and attack. In such an environment, suggestions that the media and human rights groups can be lumped together with the LTTE can be very dangerous. This has already silenced individuals and groups working to report objectively on human rights and politics in Sri Lanka and created a climate of fear for many government critics.

Attacks on media

Since the resumption of major military operations in 2006, the government has intensified political pressure on the independent media, including by conducting politically motivated arrests. In the areas it controls, the LTTE strictly controls the media, and it has a powerful influence through fear and intimidation over Tamil outlets in other parts of the country. Countrywide, attacks on journalists have reached a level unknown in recent years.

Tamil journalists, especially in the north and east, have been frequently subject to intimidation and harassment by the security forces and armed groups. Since the beginning of 2006 over two dozen Tamil media workers have been abducted, threatened, assaulted or killed.

The LTTE has long been implicated in abductions and killings of media practitioners—journalists, editors and newspaper office workers—including the August 2005 murder of Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation journalist Relangi Selvarajah and her husband Sinnadurai Selvarajah in Colombo. Tamil journalists like Selvarajah have suffered the brunt of the attacks:163 from January 2001 to July 2006, apart from a single Sinhalese journalist, every media person murdered in Sri Lanka was Tamil.164  The LTTE has also routinely pressured Tamil journalists and attempted to force Tamil media practitioners to resign from state-owned media.165

Eleven media practitioners have been killed in Sri Lanka since August 2005, placing it second after Iraq in the list of media worker deaths. None of the investigations into the murders have led to prosecutions. In its Worldwide Press Freedom index, Reporters Without Borders said that media freedom in Sri Lanka dropped dramatically from rank number 51 in 2005 to 141 in 2006.166

Over the past year, President Rajapaksa has held regular breakfast meetings with editors. According to participants, on occasion he has admonished them for their “unpatriotic” writing.167 The president has made similar statements in public. In a briefing to the media on March 29, 2007, he asked “all media institutions not to criticize our security forces, underestimating their morale. Media should not highlight the lapses of our security forces which may be advantageous to the enemy.”168

The president’s brother, Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa, has been more direct.169 On April 17, 2007, he reportedly called the editor of the Daily Mirror, Champika Liyanaarachchi, on her cell phone. According to Liyanaarachchi, he complained about the paper’s editorial stance on the war. In particular he cited an article the paper carried on April 16, about illegal activities by the Karuna group in the east, which he considered hostile to the government. He told her that the Karuna group could take revenge on her, and that the government would not be able to provide protection. According to Liyanaarachchi, Rajapaksa asked her to resign so as to avoid facing reprisals. He also allegedly said that he would “exterminate” journalist Uditha Jayasinghe, a reporter with the paper, who has written extensively on human rights issues in the country’s east.170

Members of the Sri Lankan Army from the 512 Brigade based in Jaffna summoned the editors of three Jaffna dailies on November 6, 2006, and warned them against publishing any news critical of the military.171

At a public meeting on April 6, 2007, the minister for health, Nimal Sripala de Silva, described journalists as “mad dogs” and recommended that they be given an anti-rabies injection. The minister’s angry outburst was a reaction to a series of exposes on corruption in the health sector.172

In June 2006 the government reactivated the Press Council, a media regulatory body, which it had scrapped in favor of a Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in 2003. The change sparked protests from media advocacy groups in Sri Lanka because the Press Council Act, on which the Press Council is based, prohibits the publishing of certain cabinet decisions, cabinet documents, and defense, fiscal and security matters (section 16).173 Section 16(3) prohibits the publication of an official secret as vaguely defined in the Official Secrets Act of 1955.

On September 20, 2006, the Ministry of Defense sent a letter to media institutions, requesting that “news gathered should be subjected to clarification and confirmation.”174 Journalists and editors viewed the letter as an attempt to impose censorship.

Journalists and human rights activists explained to Human Rights Watch that they now engage in self-censorship to avoid running afoul of the authorities. As one senior journalist told Human Rights Watch, “The government wants to look at everything we write, wants to vet articles and condemn those which are not favorable. If this is not censorship, what is?”175

Attacks on Uthayan and Sudar Oli

The staffs of the popular Tamil dailies Uthayan and Sudar Oli have been repeatedly targeted because of the papers’ alleged pro-LTTE stance.

The most prominent incident was the January 2006 killing of Sudar Oli journalist Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, apparently because he had reported on serious crimes by the Sri Lankan army. On the morning of January 24, unidentified gunmen in Trincomalee shot and killed Sugirdharajan as he waited for a bus to go to work. Sugirdharajan was known for having published photographs and news reports critical of the army and paramilitary groups active in the town. Most notably, Sudar Oli had published his photographs of five students allegedly executed by security forces in Trincomalee on January 2, 2006. The photographs directly contested claims by the Sri Lankan army that the young men were killed by grenades (the case is discussed further in Chapter X).176

On May 2, 2006, five masked gunmen killed two Uthayan employees—Suresh Kumar, the marketing manager, and Ranjith Kumar, working in the circulation department—when they sprayed the paper’s Jaffna office with automatic weapon fire. The attack wounded five others and damaged the office.177

On August 16, unknown attackers shot and killed an Uthayan driver named Sathasivam Baskaran, 44, while he was delivering the newspaper during a temporary lifting of the curfew in Jaffna. He was shot while driving his clearly marked vehicle in an area controlled by the Sri Lankan armed forces.178 Three days later, unknown assailants burned down the Jaffna warehouse containing Uthayan’s printing equipment.179 On September 7, six armed men entered the Jaffna offices of Uthayan and threatened editors with “severe reprisals” if they did not publish a statement urging employees of Jaffna University to call off a strike they had started over a salary dispute.180

On April 30, 2007, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Selvarajah Rajeewarnam, a young reporter for Uthayan, less than 200 meters from a military checkpoint in Jaffna. Rajeewarnam, a Tamil, had worked for another Tamil-langauge paper, Namadu Eelanadu, which had closed soon after its managing editor, Sinnathamby Sivamaharajah, was killed outside his Jaffna home in August 2006.181 Some reports blamed Rajeewarnam’s killing on the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP).182

N. Vithiyatharan, editor of the newspapers Sudar Oli and Uthayan.  © 2007 Fred Abrahams/Human Rights Watch

Soon after the August 2006 attacks on Uthayan, the government provided the paper’s editor Vithyatharan with two police guards at his Colombo home. On August 13 the security was unexpectedly withdrawn, Vithyatharan told Human Rights Watch. He raised the unexpected withdrawal with President Rajapaksa at a breakfast meeting of 25 editors on August 16. According to Vithyatharan, the president immediately lost his temper and started to shout. Vithyatharan told Human Rights Watch,

President Rajapaksa suddenly started shouting at me in front of everybody. He said, ‘I have asked to withdraw your security! No one will come to your place to give you security! You go and ask [LTTE leader] Prabhakaran! You people are praising the law of the jungle! Policemen and security are scared to come to your place since you are LTTE!’

I told him that I am working under your umbrella—it is your duty to give me protection. He started shouting at me again. He said, ‘I am not like Chandrika [former President Chandrika Kumaratunga]! I am a different person! I will hammer you people and teach a lesson to your people in Jaffna!’183

Blocking of Tamilnet website

On June 15, 2007 internet service providers in Sri Lanka blocked access to the Tamilnet website, apparently on government orders. Based in London, Tamilnet ( is a widely read, English and German language website that publishes pro-LTTE news and opinion. It is popular among Tamils who live outside Sri Lanka, as well as journalists, diplomats, and others who follow Sri Lankan news. At this writing it remained blocked inside Sri Lanka but was available outside the country.

“We have blocked it as per a government directive,” said an unnamed spokesman for Dialog, a telecommunications company.184 An official at the state carrier Sri Lanka Telecom confirmed the company was blocking the site,185 but company Chief Corporate Officer P.N.E. Abeysekara said the company had not blocked Tamilnet, and was investigating.186 (The government owns slightly under 50 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is run by the Japanese company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT).187)

Sri Lanka's government and military denied they had ordered internet service providers to block the site.188 “The government has nothing to do with this," Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said.189 At the same time, government defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella joked that he would like to close the site. “I do not know, but I would love to hire some hackers,” he said, adding that he had no access to people who could do the job.190

Attacks on Sinhala media

The Sinhala-language press has also come under governmental pressure. On November 22, 2006, agents of the Terrorist Investigation Division arrested Munusamy Parameswary, a reporter for the weekly newspaper Mawbima, under the Emergency Regulations, accusing her of “helping the LTTE and a suspected suicide bomber.” On March 22, 2007, the Supreme Court found no reasonable grounds for her detention and ordered her release.

Before Parameswary’s release, on February 27, the Terrorist Investigation Division arrested Dushantha Basnayake, the spokesman and financial director of Standard Newspapers Ltd., the company that publishes Mawbima and the English-language weekly Sunday Standard. They detained Basnayake for over two months also under the Emergency Regulations, eventually releasing him on bail; Basanayake is required to appear before court every month. On March 13 the government froze the assets of Standard Newspapers Ltd., citing suspected links to the LTTE. The company’s assets remain frozen and neither Mawbima nor the Sunday Standard have published since March 29.

Over the past year, Mawbima has reported on government corruption and human rights violations. The newspaper’s journalists have questioned the government’s role in the spiraling number of abductions and enforced disappearances as fighting between the government and LTTE escalated.

The owner of Standard Newspapers, Tiran Alles, is also a close associate of two former ministers, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Ports Development Minister Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi. Both ministers lost their jobs in February 2006 after falling out with the president. According to press reports, during an executive committee meeting of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party on February 11, President Rajapaksa accused the two sacked ministers of using Mawbima to plot against him. One month later, the government froze Standard Newspapers’ assets.

In a letter released to the Free Media Movement in March 2007, Mawbima’s owners alleged that the government first made subtle overtures to Alles to change the editorial policy of its newspapers. When this failed, the paper was shut down.191

In another case against the Sinhala media, on January 5, 2007, government security forces in Colombo arrested three activists of the Sri Lanka Railway trade union and its publication Akuna, M.A. Sisira Priyankara, M.L. Senaviratna, and Nihal Serasinghe. The government did not announce the arrests at first, but one day later army spokesperson Prasad Samarasinghe produced evidence at a press conference that he claimed implicated the three trade union activists in planning terrorist acts. He accused the three men of collusion with the LTTE, and another officer at the press conference said they had already carried out attacks that had not resulted in casualties. The military showed journalists video recordings of the three activists confessing that they were planning to commit terrorist acts. All three, who reportedly appeared to be under pressure, also explained their military training with the LTTE. The army spokesperson told the press that the CID was holding the “traitors” in the interests of the investigation.192 The three men are still detained.

In response to a Human Rights Watch query, the Sri Lankan government said M.A. Priyankara was charged with undergoing weapons training at an LTTE camp, detonating bombs, the destruction of a Mobitel Tower at Radawana, and the possession of firearms and explosives. The government did not provide any information to support these claims.193

Harassment by the Karuna group

The Karuna group has impeded and at times blocked the circulation of some Tamil-language newspapers in the north and east. In October 2006 and again in January 2007 the Karuna group prohibited the circulation of Thinakural, Virakesari, and Sudar Oli in Batticaloa and Ampara districts. The government took no apparent steps against the Karuna group for this. Also in October 2006 the Karuna group burned 10,000 copies of the Tamil-language daily Virakesari.194 In government-controlled areas of Batticaloa district the Karuna group banned the sale of Tamil papers except the EPDP-owned Thinamurasu and the government-owned Thinakaran. The group has also issued death threats to newspaper distributors in Trincomalee in an attempt to block the distribution of independent Tamil papers. Again there was no apparent effort by the government to block these actions or arrest those responsible.

While the Karuna group has been blocking Tamil media, the EPDP has reportedly used force to sell its newspapers. Batticaloa residents told Human Rights Watch that EPDP members sometimes force local residents to buy the EPDP newspaper Thinamurasu. They have seen EPDP cadres demanding that people on the streets and in buses purchase the paper.195

Pressure on NGOs

Relations between local and international NGOs and the Sri Lankan government began to deteriorate after the 2004 tsunami, when dozens of new NGOs entered the country. Many made valuable contributions to reconstruction and rehabilitation, but in the unregulated wave of new organizations, some were ineffectual or engaged in corruption or religious proselytizing.

The Sinhalese nationalist JVP political party and its allies in particular grew critical of the presence of a large number of international NGOs. Because Tamils and Muslims were among the hardest groups hit by the tsunami, and thus got much (but by no means all) of the foreign assistance, the JVP and its allies viewed these NGOs with suspicion. Those groups that provided services in LTTE-controlled areas were subjected to greater criticism, and were often accused of supporting the LTTE.

As major hostilities between the government and the LTTE resumed in 2006, the government significantly stepped up its verbal attacks on NGOs, increasingly accusing them of undermining the government’s war efforts, if not outright supporting the LTTE. The government has purposely fostered an atmosphere of distrust and dislike that, according to some humanitarian groups, has placed their staff members at risk.

Some members of the government have issued direct threats against civil society groups. In February 2007, for example, Minister for Environment and Natural Resources Champika Ranawaka of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU, the Buddhist monk party in the government coalition), advocated extrajudicial methods to deal with human rights groups, journalists, and others who criticize the state’s military strategy. “Those bastards are traitors. We can’t do anything because of wild donkey freedom in this country,” he told the Ravaya newspaper on February 18. “If those can’t be handled with existing laws we know how to do it. If we can’t suppress those bastards with the law we need to use any other ways and means, yes.” To Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, no one in the government has condemned Ranawaka’s words.

On March 8, 2007, the government’s peace secretariat vehemently dismissed the growing allegations of government human rights violations as propaganda of the LTTE, suggesting that those who reported such violations were assisting the insurgent group:

Any group or organization, falling prey to this malicious propaganda of the LTTE, without prior inquiry, investigation or reliable verification, could as well be accused of complicity in propagating and disseminating the message and motives of the LTTE.196

When Amnesty International launched a campaign during the 2007 Cricket World Cup to raise awareness about human rights violations in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan government suggested that the international human rights organization was linked to the LTTE. A report by Sri Lanka’s peace secretariat condemning the campaign was titled “Amnesty International’s Campaign and LTTE’s Expectations Fail.”197

At times the government has purposefully spread the message that international humanitarian organizations are assisting the LTTE. Following military operations in Vaharai in January 2007, for example, the military found shelter material from UNHCR left behind by displaced persons, as well as empty food bags from the World Food Programme (WFP). The defense ministry broadcast images of these WFP bags filled with sand in LTTE bunkers on the state-run Rupavahini television channel, insinuating that the relief organization was helping the LTTE. Shortly thereafter, a mob attacked a government warehouse in Trincomalee stocked with WFP supplies.198

In January 2007 the military claimed to have found equipment donated by the international humanitarian organization ZOA Refugee Care at an LTTE-run hospital it had overrun in Ampara district. The government quickly accused ZOA, a Dutch NGO that has operated in Ampara since 1997, of supporting the LTTE. “Certain NGOs are acting against the normal law of the land and have got involved with subversives,” government defense spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said. “Some have stooped down to assisting the terrorists.”199 ZOA adamantly denied the charges, stating that it had supported the community by providing, among other aid, reconstruction material, development loans, and psychosocial support. “Though we received some requests to support the hospital we declined as the same was run directly by LTTE and had an LTTE doctor,” ZOA said in a statement. “To the best of our knowledge we have not provided support of any kind to LTTE in any form. All our assistance was provided directly to beneficiaries. No assistance was provided to [the LTTE-linked] TRO [Tamil Rehabilitation Organization] or any other local agency in the area.”

According to ZOA, the organization had stopped all activities as of August 4, 2006, when the Special Task Force said Ministry of Defence permission was required to access the LTTE-controlled area. “After this we entered the area on one occasion with STF permission to remove essential office items and documents,” ZOA said. “However we were unable to enter the area again to remove other items due to prevailing situation in the area.”200

Government security forces have been implicated in violence against NGO workers. According to the United Nations, 24 aid workers died in Sri Lanka in 2006.201 The most serious incident was the execution-style killing of 17 local staff of the Paris-based NGO Action Contre la Faim in August 2006. The case is currently under investigation by the Attorney General and the Commission of Inquiry (see Chapter X, “Impunity for Rights Violations”).

On May 15, 2006, soldiers in Vavuniya shot dead an employee of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jeyaruban Gnanapragasam. According to an international humanitarian worker with direct knowledge of the incident, a soldier shot and killed Gnanapragasam after an argument over the military’s use of his tractor.202 On May 21, 2006, in Mutur, unknown assailants threw grenades at the offices of three international NGOs, ZOA Refugee Care, INTERSOS, and Non-Violent Peace Force (NVPF). The latter attack injured one international staff member and two passers-by, and damaged the NVPF offices. The government condemned the attack203 and ordered an investigation, but at this writing the police have not reported any arrests.

On April 4, 2007, Sri Lankan security forces said they had arrested two NVPF local staff members in Trincomalee after discovering a grenade in their car. NVPF said it had “no reason to suspect its staff of deliberately carrying the hand grenade” and that the organization “can only assume that the said grenade was placed in the vehicle without the knowledge of our staff.” NVPF alerted other nongovernmental organizations and UN agencies “to be vigilant to the possibility of further occurrences of this nature.”204 Police released the men on April 16, but they are scheduled to appear in court in July, apparently on charges of possessing illegal weapons.205 The police seem to have conducted a professional investigation, but the Ministry of Defence issued a statement on its website on the day of the arrests, entitled “Non Violent Peace Force Caught with Its Pants Down—Trincomalee,”206 that further stirred anti-NGO sentiment by suggesting the NVPF members were guilty before trial. The Sri Lankan army website also posted photographs of the arrested NVPF staff but shortly thereafter took them down.

The Ministry of Defence issued a second statement on April 6 that alleged one of the two suspects had ties to the LTTE. The statement elaborated on the alleged link between nongovernmental organizations and the armed group:

Despite the INGOs unwavering confidence over its employees, one of the suspects is alleged to have close connection with an LTTE terrorist named ‘Ice Manju’, a Sinhalese LTTE assassin based in Trincomalee area, our sources said. In 2005, a body of an employee of another INGO was found with full military gear among the slain LTTE cadres who had attacked the security forces personnel. There are many other speculations on INGOs helping the LTTE to expand its bloodshed in the country. The SL government has several times requested the INGOs operating with in the country to review their recruitment mechanism since such organizations might be easily targeted by the terror moles seeking immunity over security measures.207

On June 2, 2007, the bodies of two employees of the Sri Lankan Red Cross were found with gunshot wounds in Ratnapura district, southeast of Colombo. The dead were Karthakesu Chandramohan, age 26, and Sinnarasa Shanmugalingam, 32.

The two men, both Tamils, had traveled with four Red Cross colleagues from their hometown of Batticaloa to Colombo on May 30 for a workshop on tsunami relief. The group was waiting in Colombo’s Fort railway station on June 1 for the train home when, around 6:30 p.m., a group of men in civilian clothes who identified themselves as police asked them for their identity papers.208 According to the Red Cross, the men took Chandramohan and Shanmugalingam away in a white van for “alleged questioning.” The other four Red Cross workers lodged an entry at the nearby Fort police station. The president of the Red Cross informed the inspector general of police and the secretary to the Ministry of Defence.209

The bodies appeared the following day in Dumbara Estate in Kiriella, Ratnapura district.

The government dismissed the allegation that it was behind the abductions and murders as “part of the general propaganda and disinformation build-up against the president and the government.”210

At the same time, the president ordered the police to conduct a full inquiry into the killings. According to a presidential statement, he told the Sri Lankan Red Cross and the ICRC that the government “would do everything possible to bring the perpetrators of this crime to book.”211 He repeated the promise to top officials from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva that he was committed to a full investigation that would hold the perpetrators to account.212

In a statement, the Sri Lankan Red Cross explained how the murders will impact its work: “This act will have major impact on the volunteers of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society as well as to the Red Cross Red Crescent movement which is the largest humanitarian organization in the world, whose mission is to alleviate human suffering. We believe that this act will jeopardize the commitment of our volunteers and have a major impact in our accessibility in delivering humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable.”

Direct evidence of Karuna group threats emerged in Batticaloa district. According to humanitarian agencies working there district, the Karuna group has threatened local and international NGOs providing aid to displaced persons, trying to control the delivery of humanitarian aid and also attempting to extort from NGOs—including large international organizations that are providing services to the displaced—to buy goods from Karuna-endorsed suppliers. In one case known to Human Rights Watch, the group demanded that an international humanitarian organization purchase supplies from a distributor aligned with the group. In another case, the Karuna group abducted a Sri Lankan worker at an IDP camp, apparently because the person was Muslim. He was subsequently released.213

In December 2006 the Karuna group started a drive against the “No Weapons” stickers used by most NGOs outside their offices and on vehicles. Two international aid groups told Human Rights Watch that the Karuna group had complained to them about the “pacifist” stickers, which they considered an “insult to their movement.”214

In Colombo, Sri Lankan human rights activists have also been receiving death threats on the telephone from unknown callers. Three activists told Human Rights Watch that they had received such calls over the past year, and they knew of others who had received them too, but none of them reported the call to the police or wished their names to be published in this report due to security concerns. One activist who received a death threat told Human Rights Watch,

There is no point in trying to get these death threats investigated. We know whoever is making these calls enjoys a degree of protection from law-enforcing authorities in the country.215

Parliamentary Committee on NGOs
In March 2005 parliament established a Select Committee of Parliament for the Investigation of the Operations of Non-governmental Organizations and their Impact. The committee was initially created to investigate tsunami funding and the role of foreign NGOs. The justification for the committee, as set out in the terms of reference, was the allegation that some NGOs were engaged in activities that are “inimical to the sovereignty and integrity of Sri Lanka” and “detrimental to the national and social well being of the country,” as well as adversely affecting “national security.”216

With the change of administration in November 2005, however, the committee altered tack and began to examine a range of NGOs not directly involved in tsunami-related relief. Over the past 12 months, the committee has asked NGOs to submit internal records from the past 10 years, such as lists of publications and organized functions, including attendees.217 NGO activists believe the government has encouraged an expansion of the committee’s purview as a means to pressure independent and critically-minded groups.

The committee has asked at least eight international organizations to submit records for investigation. These include Caritas, Consortium for Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), Bergof Foundation, Centre for Policy Alternatives, National Peace Council, and ZOA. Some of the organizations have balked at the demand. The Berghof Foundation, for example, at first refused to appear before the committee, although it later agreed. The director for Sri Lanka, Dr. Norbert Ropers, told the committee that the foundation had an arrangement directly with the government so there was no need to appear. “We work here under a MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] signed between the Foundation and the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and Industrial Development in July 2001 and is also registered under the Companies Act,” he said.218

On January 27, 2007, the committee summoned the Dutch NGO ZOA to discuss allegations by the military that it had provided equipment to the LTTE (see above). According to ZOA, the committee members made the following allegations:

1. ZOA is a Christian organization only helping Tamil Christians;

2. ZOA built and supported a hospital for the LTTE in Kanchi Kudi Aru; and

3. ZOA built 500 houses for the families of fallen LTTE fighters in Kanchi Kudi Aru.

ZOA denied all the allegations, and said it also helped non-Tamil communities, including Muslims resettling in Musali in Mannar, Sinhalese families in Serunuwara, and Sinhalese and Muslim families in Polonnaruwa.219

The Select Committee is chaired by a JVP parliamentarian, Wijitha Herath, and consists of the chair plus members from the JVP and the Buddhist monk party, JHU. Both parties represent a strong Sinhalese nationalist perspective. Hardline segments of Sinhalese polity are vehemently opposed to a negotiated, federal solution to the conflict, and have openly supported an intensified military strategy.

NGOs register under the Voluntary Social Services Organization Act or the Companies Act and are subject to the financial oversight of these acts. Any allegations of fraud or misappropriation of funds by NGOs registered under the Voluntary Social Services Organization Act are brought to the notice of the government by the registrar, which may refer the matter to a Board of Inquiry.  Those NGOs registered as non-profit organizations under the Companies Act must provide an annual report and statement of accounts to the Registrar of Companies. As existing checks and balances are already in place, the need for additional financial reviews seems unnecessary and raises questions about the parliament’s motives in monitoring NGO work.

161 Address to the Nation by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, December 6, 2006, (accessed May 30, 2007).

162 “Senior Journalists Questioned by Police under New Anti-Terrorism Regulations,” Free Media Movement press release, December 21, 2006, (accessed May 25, 2007).

163 Reporters Without Borders, “Mission Statement of International Fact-Finding and Advocacy Mission to Sri Lanka,” October 11, 2006, (accessed July 16, 2007).

164 Free Media Movement’s submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council, March 2007.

165 Freedom House, “Freedom in Sri Lanka-2006, Overview,” (accessed July 3, 2007).

166 Reporters Without Borders, “Press Freedom Index 2006,” (accessed May 14, 2007).

167 Human Rights Watch interview with journalists, Colombo, March 2, 2007.

168 Free Media Movement, “President requests media not to criticise our Security Forces,” March 29, 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

169 Human Rights Watch interview with journalists, Colombo, March, 2007.

170 Reporters Without Borders, “Defence secretary threatens editor and journalist on Daily Mirror,” April 19, 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

171 Centre for Policy Alternatives, “War, Peace and Governance.”

172 PK Balachandran, “Lankan minister calls scribes ‘mad dogs’,” Hindustan Times, April 12, 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

173 Kelum Bandara and Kasun Yapa Karunaratne, “Media associations concerned about PC,” Daily Mirror, June 26, 2006, (accessed July 16, 2007).

174 International Federation of Journalists, “International Fact-Finding and Advocacy Mission to Sri Lanka,” October 11, 2006, (accessed July 16, 2007).

175 Human Rights Watch interview with journalist, Colombo, March 4, 2007.

176 Ibid.

177 Committee to Protect Journalists, “In Sri Lanka, Two Killed in Attack on Tamil Newspaper,” May 2, 2006, (accessed July 16, 2007), and Reporters Without Borders, “Tamil press group driver killed, newspaper offices raided,” August 16, 2006, (accessed July 16, 2007).

178 Free Media Movement, “Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Survival,” January 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

179 “Sri Lanka: Tamil Journalists Under Threat—Overview,” South Asia Media Monitor, 2006, (accessed July 17, 2007).

180 Human Rights Watch interview with Uthayan journalists, Colombo, March 2007.

181 Committee to Protect Journalists, “Amid Civil Strife, Another Tamil Journalist Killed in Sri Lanka,” April 30, 2007, (accessed July 3, 2007).

182 Reporters Without Borders, “Young Reporter with Tamil Newspaper Murdered in Jaffna,” May 1, 2007, accessed July 16, 2007).

183 Human Rights Watch interview with N. Vithyatharan, Colombo, March 3, 2007.

184 Simon Gardner, “Sri Lanka Urged to Stop Censoring Pro-Tiger Website,” Reuters, June 22, 2007.

185 “Sri Lanka Seeks Hackers to Down Pro-Tiger Website,” Agence France-Presse, June 20, 2007.

186 Gardner, “Sri Lanka Urged to Stop Censoring Pro-Tiger Website,” Reuters.

187 “Sri Lanka Seeks Hackers to Down Pro-Tiger Website,” Agence France-Presse.

188 “Popular Tamil Website ‘Blocked,’” BBC, June 20, 2007, (accessed June 27, 2007).

189 Gardner, “Sri Lanka Urged to Stop Censoring Pro-Tiger Website,” Reuters.

190 “Sri Lanka Seeks Hackers to Down Pro-Tiger Website,” Agence France-Presse.

191 Open letter to the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka from Thilakaratne Kuruwita Bandara, chief editor of Mawbima, and Hana Ibrahim, chief editor of the Sunday Standard, May 14, 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

192 Reporters Without Borders, “Army Accuses Three Journalists of Terrorism,” February 7, 2007,, accessed May 19, 2007 (accessed July 16, 2007).

193 Sri Lankan government response to Human Rights Watch, July 12, 2007.

194 International Press Institute, “World Press Freedom Review-Sri Lanka, 2006,” (accessed July 3, 2007).

195 Human Rights Watch interviews, Batticaloa, March 2007.

196 SCOPP, “Baseless Allegations of Abductions and Disappearances.”

197 “Amnesty International’s Campaign and LTTE’s Expectations Fail,” SCOPP statement, April 26, 2007, (accessed July 3, 2007).

198 Human Rights Watch interview with international aid worker, Colombo, February 21, 2007.

199 Simon Gardner, “Sri Lanka Probes Aid Groups for Suspected Rebel Links,” Reuters, January 11, 2007.

200 ZOA statement, January 10, 2007.

201 Security Council Briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, June 22, 2007.

202 Human Rights Watch interview, Batticaloa, February 27, 2007.

203 “Attack on International NGOs an Act of Terror,” Sri Lankan government statement, May 22, 2006, (accessed July 3, 2007).

204 Nonviolent Peaceforce, “Statement of NPSL on the Trinco Incident,” April 4, 2007.

205 “Hand grenade discovery - NPSL is concerned and perplexed,” Ministry of Defence news release, April 6, 2007, (accessed July 3, 2007).

206 “Non Violent Peace Force Caught with Its Pants Down—Trincomalee,” Ministry of Defence news release, April 4, 2007, (accessed April 5, 2007).

207 “Hand grenade discovery - NPSL is concerned and perplexed,” Ministry of Defence news release.

208 “Sri Lanka Red Cross Staff Killed,” BBC, June 3, 2007, (accessed June 28, 2007).

209 “Brutal Murder of Two Red Cross Volunteers,” Red Cross Society of Sri Lanka news release, June 4, 2007, (accessed July 16, 2007).

210 Presidential Secretariat, “Red Cross Workers’ Abduction and Killing – Concerted Efforts to Discredit President and Government, and Tarnish Sri Lanka,” June 4, 2007.

211 Official website of the President of Sri Lanka,“President Talking to Red Cross Representatives at the Presidential Secretariat,” June 6, 2007, (accessed June 28, 2007).

212 “Red Cross/Red Crescent Meet with Sri Lankan President in Geneva,” ICRC press release, June 14, 2007,!OpenDocument (accessed June 28, 2007).

213 Human Rights Watch interview with international aid worker, Batticaloa, February 28, 2007.

214 Human Rights Watch interviews with international aid worker, Batticaloa, February, 2007.

215 Human Rights Watch interview with human rights activist, Colombo, March 2007.

216 International Commission of Jurists, “Sri Lanka - Open letter on the Select Committee of Parliament for the Investigation of the Operations of Non-governmental Organizations and their Impact,” September 5, 2006.

217 “Hunting NGOs or Restoring and Rewarding Non-profit Work, Daily Mirror, February 22, 2007.

218 “Berghof Questioned over Ducking Select Committee Summons,” Sunday Times (Colombo), May 13, 2007.

219 Email correspondence between ZOA staff member and Human Rights Watch, January 27, 2007.