Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH

Email : tchrgs@hotmail.com / tchrdip@hotmail.com

(Est. 1990)

 

31 August 2001

 

Mary Robinson

Secretary General

UN World Conference Against Racism

Durban

South Africa

 

Dear Madam,

 

At the very outset, we the Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR, would like to warmly congratulate you on your great task as Secretary General of the World Conference Against Racism 2001.

 

Everyone is aware that you and your staff are working day and night to make this conference a successful one at the start of this millennium, as there are so many instances of discriminations around the world. Various types of discrimination have paved paths for Civil war, Ethnic Conflict, Armed conflict, etc. Many of these conflicts have as their ultimate goal, the winning of Right to self-determination as the only durable solution to the political problems at the root of discrimination and xenophobia in today's world.

 

Madam, we do not have to tell you in detail what have been happening in Sri Lanka for the last few decades! The systematic discrimination by Sinhala political leaders against the people who live in their traditional homeland in the North-East has forced tremendous hardship upon them in many forms.

 

As a result of the failure to find a solution by non violent struggle and parliamentary ballot, the Tamils youth found that armed struggle was the only means to gain their fundamental rights and their right to self-determination.

 

After a long struggle, today Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka have a de-facto government in two thirds of their hereditary lands ­ the North East of the island. The administration of this de-facto government is lead by the Liberation Tigers of Tamils Eelam - LTTE.

 

The present de-facto government of Tamil Eelam has all the characteristics of other states. It has defined boundaries and has the support of the people. It has a judicial system, police force, banks, etc.  In fact, the Tamils of the North East of the island voted overwhelmingly in the 1977 parliamentary election for the same. The Sinhala leaders suppressed this ballot, shortly afterwards, by a constitutional amendment (known as the  “Sixth amendment”) in parliament.

 

 

Madam, herewith we append various facts on Colonisation, Employment, Education, Religious activities, Military activities, Genocide, etc for participants of this Conference to see how a Nation has been discriminated against during the last 55 years!

 

Madam, even the Norwegian mediation between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE has come to a stalemate because the government has demanded the Norwegian government to change the main mediator, Mr. Solheim. He was shuttling between the government and LTTE for nearly two years in search of peace. The government has accused Mr. Solheim of giving too much consolation to the Tamils!

 

Now it is time for the International community to realise that the present government cannot deliver a lasting solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It is time for the international community to exert intense pressure on the Sri Lankan government to stop the bloody war and start negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - LTTE in order to find a negotiated durable solution in the Island of Sri Lanka.

 

Thanking you,

 

 

Yours truly,

 

 

 

S. V. Kirubaharan

General Secretary - TCHR

 

 

 

* * * * * *

 

Urgent actions ­ TCHR

 

TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH

Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de l'Homme

(Established 1990)

 

 

Ref:  AC/14/01                       PRESS RELEASE                             28 January 2001

 

CHINESE NEW YEAR - LATEST PLATFORM HIJACKED BY

THE SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT!

 

Chinese New Year is celebrated every year in Manchester-UK, by the large Chinese community living there, and many other people from the vibrant multiracial and multicultural population of Manchester. Thousands flock into the streets to see the impressive dragon dance.

 

The Sri Lankan Sinhala community has not missed the opportunity of hijacking this spirit of togetherness and celebration of culture - for its own political ends. Capitalising on the good relationship the Chinese have with Mancunians from many diverse communities, the Manchester branch of the “Midland International Buddhist Association in the UK”, booked the large hall of the Chinese Buddhist Temple on Stretford Road, for an event on January 27th. To mark the occasion the Sri Lankan High Commissioner Mr Mangala Munasinghe was invited as an honoured guest.

 

Manchester civil society has a long-standing commitment to peace and justice and international human rights issues. So it is not surprising that when citizens came to know that the Sri Lankan High Commissioner was coming to Manchester, human rights activists and Tamil residents in the area were determined to protest.

 

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner clearly represents a country which is committing the most vicious acts of genocide against the Tamil people in the North and east of the island of Sri Lanka, and should not be allowed to use the city’s international goodwill to promote its own vile propaganda and denial of the genocide it is committing.

 

The opening welcome to the event was delivered by Dr. M. B. Ranatunga, who is a well-known regional Sri Lankan government propagandist.

 

Mancunians met with the Chinese Buddhists at the temple, two weeks prior to the event, to explain to them how they felt about the situation. They were told by staff at the temple that the Sinhala Sri Lankan community had simply booked the hall, and that the event was not being put on by the Chinese temple monks and nuns! They themselves were not fully informed about how the Sri Lankan government is persecuting Tamils, but were duly informed during the discussions. It was too late to cancel the meeting.

 

Human rights organisations and members of the public were planing a peaceful protest demonstration. Many people including local Tamils phoned to explain how hurtful, offensive and inappropriate it is to allow the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to come to speak as a guest of honour at the event. People were now being told that the meeting was rescheduled for later in the evening, presumably to avoid any demonstration.

 

The “new”, revised time clashed with Manchester’s Town Hall large event for the first Holocaust Memorial Day, where many of the city’s politicians and committed human rights people were to be present.

 

When the High Commissioner was about to light the lamp, a veteran Human Rights campaigner and activist well known in Manchester posed a question to Mr. Moonasinghe asking, "Why isn't Compassion, for which Buddhism is renowned, extended by Sinhala Buddhists towards the Tamils in Sri Lanka? It is clearly wrong for Buddhists to persecute and massacre the Tamil people". As usual, the High Commissioner tried to lobby this human rights activist, and had a phone number given to him to contact!

 

Human Rights activists and groups in the international arena are taking up the issue of the genocide of the Tamil people, and not letting the Sri Lankan government get way with it.  

 

The Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR, had been invited to have an information stall at the well-attended Town Hall meeting in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Many people of the diverse communities present learned about Bindunuwewa, Mirusuvil, other massacres and evidence of genocide of Tamils through information given out on the stall. 

 

 

* * * * * *

 

TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH

Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de l'Homme

(Established 1990)

Ref:  AC/13/01                                   PRESS RELEASE                 05 January 2001

ASSASSINATION OF KUMAR PONNAMBALAM

FIRST YEAR COMMEMORATION

5th January 2000 was a nightmare to every peace-loving citizen of this world. It was the day when yet another barbaric act was committed by the government of Sri Lanka.

Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam Jnr. - known to everyone as Kumar Ponnambalam was assassinated by Sri Lankan government-sponsored killers. At 10.00am on 5th January he was shot dead in cold blood in Wellawatta-Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Courageous human rights defender - Ponnambalam's memorial meetings were held spontaneously in many parts of the world and several VIPs and Internationally recognised human rights defenders spoke out and condemned his assassination.

Concerns were raised promptly by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (Report No. E/CN.4/2000/61 -21 February 2000).

 

On 15 August 2000, during the 52nd session of the UN Sub Commission on the promotion and protection of human rights, a Member and an Expert Mr. Louis Joinet, raised his concern in a speech made about Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam. Mr. Louis Joinet said, "I met Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam here in the United Nations during a previous session. He had told me personally of his fears due to the fact that he had been verbally threatened and certain media had written attacks against him. Immediately, I had made an appointment with the Ambassador of Sri Lanka, whom I met in this building. I talked the matter over with him, bringing to his notice these threats to Mr. Ponnambalam. Mr. Ponnambalam's fears proved to be right and he is no more alive!".

 

Many International NGOs raised their concerned in the UN Commission on Human Rights as well as in the UN Sub Commission on the promotion and protection of human rights. They condemned the assassination of Ponnambalam and demanded the Sri Lankan government to hold an independent inquiry.

Over many years Mr. Ponnambalam, a prominent expert and able criminal lawyer, had defended thousands of people who suffered gross and systematic violations of human rights at the hands of the Sri Lankan government security forces.

Mr. Ponnambalam, living in Colombo, had courageously presented internationally - the deteriorating human rights situation, which is far from improving in Sri Lanka. For several years, he spoke on these matters in international arenas, such as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights - Geneva-Switzerland, Council of Europe - Strasbourg-France, European Parliament - Brussels-Belgium, Royal Institute of International Affairs - London, United Kingdom. Also he delivered speeches in many seminars and conferences in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and USA.

A year has now passed and there has been no development at all in the investigation of this assassination, despite many clues. It was masterminded and carried out by government sponsored killers, whom the government is systematically protecting.

We take this opportunity to say how regrettable it is, that an International human rights organisation which issues statements promptly regarding certain violations in Sri Lanka, has failed to either condemn or to make a statement on this killing! This was the one and only NGO, which has failed to condemn this killing! As usual, it says that the inquiries are underway! The Sri Lankan government also says this.

Sri Lanka is called a SOCIALIST, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC - yet could neither find the culprit nor investigate the assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam, which took place in broad daylight in the capital, Colombo. Several news items indicate proof that the government has covered up this incident.

 

TCHR issued the following Urgent Actions regarding the assassination of Kumar Ponnamabalam.

1 - On 5 January 2000 - (Ref. No:  AE/02/01)

"Human Rights Defender Mr Kumar Ponnambalam was assassinated today".

2 - On 28 February 2000 - (Ref. No :  AE/03/02)

"Assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam has clues but no proper investigations"

* * * * * *

 

 CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME CTDH - TCHR

Tamil Centre for Human Rights TCHR - TCHR

(Established 1990)

 

 

Ref:  AE/10/10                                   URGENT ACTION                           25 October 2000

 

 

BARBARIC KILLINGS ON THE INCREASE IN SRI LANKA

 

 

This morning at 5.00 am local time, around 2000 Sinhala thugs stormed a rehabilitation centre in Bindunuwewa, housing more than 50 Tamil detainees, wielding knives, machetes, axes and iron rods. They hacked to death 24 defenceless Tamil political detainees and then set fire to the whole centre. 16 detainees were seriously wounded and a further seven were injured. 20 detainees are still missing! Bindunuwewa is in Bandarawela district, in the central part of Sri Lanka.

 

The police on duty took no serious action to stop the violence. They called the army base, 15km away. By the time the (army) "rescue team" arrived, two hours later, the horrific incident was over. The BBC reported defence forces as saying that the incident could not have been carried out without the tacit consent of the security forces. Recently, posters have been displayed prominently in the area inciting racial hatred and violence against the Tamils.

 

The centre was run by the National Youth Service Council. The young Tamil people housed there have been arbitrarily arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations. Thousands of such arrests take place in the south of the island. Human Rights organisations have denounced the PTA and ERs as facilitating torture and the violations of non-derogable rights such as the right to life. The UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Sri Lanka acceded in 1980, states in Article 9(2) that persons arrested should receive prompt notification of reason for arrest and any charges made against them. Article 9(3) states that they should be promptly brought before a judge and brought to trial or released. ER20, the Emergency regulation pertaining to Rehabilitation orders grossly and massively contravenes both these international human rights standards.

 

The Tamil youths who were in the centre were mostly under 19 years old. These detainees, arrested under the PTA had been planning to hold a hunger strike demanding that they be either charged or released.

 

Internationally, the Sri Lankan government declares a commitment to Children's rights. Yet it actually encourages barbaric violence against Tamil young people, from the hate propaganda generated against Tamils to the injustice of the PTA and ER and routine use of torture. Recent reports of routine medieval style torture on Colombo detention centres have written of sexual violence against Tamil men and boys.

 

The ICRC spoke about the incident in the strongest of terms. The spokesperson in Sri Lanka stated that in accordance with International Law the detainees' authorities have responsibility for the safety and security of detainees at all times and in all circumstances.

 

The civilian, police and military authorities, are all the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government, which has failed abysmally to protect the lives of these innocent youth. This latest barbaric massacre follows several others. In 1983 Sinhala convicts butchered 53 Tamil political prisoners in Welikade prison - prison guards joined in. In December 1997 three Tamil were hacked to death while guards looked on. Two Tamil political prisoners were murdered in Kalutara jail in January this year.

 

The political prisoners had been demanding that their cases be filed or they be released. They were denied the judicial processes to which they have a right under the ICCPR.

 

TCHR urges all concerned individuals and human rights organisations to:

 

* Demand that the Sri Lankan government produce the 20 missing young persons.

* Condemn these barbaric murders and call for an independent inquiry.

* Immediately release or charge the Tamil political detainees. 

* Condemn the draconian and inhuman PTA and ERs which facilitate such killings.

 

 

ADDRESSES:

 

Her Excellency President Chandrika B Kumaratunga,

Presidential Residence,

Colombo 3,

Sri Lanka,

Fax: 94 - 1 - 333 - 703

 

Mr G L Peiris,

Minister of Justice,

Ministry of Justice,

Colombo,

Sri Lanka.

 

Inspector General of Police,

Police Headquarters,

New Secretariat,

Colombo 1,

Sri Lanka.

 

* * * * * *

 

CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME CTDH - TCHR
Tamil Centre for Human Rights TCHR - TCHR

(Established 1990)

 

AE/09/10                                   URGENT ACTION                                 23 October 2000


SUMMARY EXECUTION OF TAMIL JOURNALIST ­ A HEINOUS OUTRAGE



On 19th October Mylvaganam Nimalraja, aged 38, well-known journalist and father of three, was shot dead in his own home, through the window of his room, as he wrote a news report. He was the Jaffna correspondent for the Tamil daily Virakesari, the independent Tamil radio station, Sooriyan FM, the popular Sinhala political weekly, Ravaya, the Tamil and Sinhala services of the BBC. He was also the secretary of the Northern Journalists' Association.


His father, Samgarapillai Mylvaganam, aged 65, his mother, Lilly Mylvaganam, 62, and his nephew Jegata Prasanna, 11, were also attacked when a grenade was thrown into the home. They remain in a critical condition in Jaffna hospital. Mr Nirmalrajan’s wife and daughters had a narrow escape as they were in another part of the property at the time.


Days before his killing Mr Nirmalrajan had confided with colleagues that he had received death-threats. He had reported on the serious problems of the Tamil people displaced by the war, and the destruction of family life. He had also bravely reported on the vote rigging, intimidation and violence in the recent elections, carried out by a militant group active on the peninsula. The armed group, which has joined the political mainstream and contested parliamentary elections, helps the Sri Lankan government’s security forces in the peninsula. The human rights violations of the Sri Lankan security forces and the paramilitary groups' working with them is well known. Mr Nimalarajan had written reports critical of the group.


This group had reportedly been displeased with the sums of votes their political group, the EPDP had received. Nirmalrajan was made aware that they had been angered by his honest reporting. The same organisation
was suspected of carrying out a bomb attack on a Jaffna daily newspaper, Uthayan, in August 1999, which had also been critical of the EPDP. The EPDP is strongly amid widely suspected to have been behind the assassination of Mr Nirmalrajan.


Shock waves spread through the world as Tamil organisations and media, and groups defending the rights of journalists based in Sri Lanka, New York and Vienna condemned the brutal assassination, expressing their outrage. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists stated that “Nirmalrajan was one of the few sources of independent news from the Jaffna Peninsula where journalists are not allowed free access.” International media including AFP and BBC were quick to give voice to the distress of reporting rights groups.


The Sri Lankan government operates a strict media blockade in Sri Lanka, preventing local and foreign journalists from reporting freely from the Tamil areas. This censorship has been condemned frequently by numerous international human rights organisations and over many years. The denial and repression of news is an ongoing blatant attempt to hide the truth and avoid the scrutiny and sustained outrage of the international community. Mr Nirmalrajan used his skills fearlessly to get the real version of the local news to a vast number of international media contacts. His selflessness and commitment to his profession as an independent journalist cost him his life.


The cowardly and brutal murder of this respected and courageous journalist, is yet another cruel attempt to silence the voice of truth. All individuals and organisations that believe in justice, human rights and who cherish freedom of expression and life itself must condemn this brutal and callous assassination.


Please write/fax the President and the Inspector General of Police, condemning the killing of Mr Nirmalrajan and urging that a rigorous and immediate independent inquiry into his murder be made. TCHR urgent actions AE/02/01 (5 Jan 2000) and AE/03/02 (28 Feb 2000) called for an independent inquiry into the assassination of human rights defender, Mr Kumar Ponnambalam, until today no serious steps have been taken in this direction.



ADDRESSES:

Her Excellency President Chandrika B Kumaratunga,

Presidential Residence,

Colombo 3,

Sri Lanka,

Fax: 94 - 1 - 333 - 703



Inspector General of Police,

Police Headquarters,

New Secretariat,

Colombo 1,

Sri Lanka.

 

 

* * * * * * *

 

 

TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR
(Estd. 1990)




Ref. No. AC/08/05                           URGENT APPEAL                          29/05/2000



Killing of Civilians and Ethnic Cleansing in Sri Lanka



Despite our Urgent Appeal of 04/05/2000 (Ref. No. AC/07/05 - Imminent danger in the Island of Sri Lanka), some countries have supplied large quantities of sophisticated arms and ammunition to the Sri Lanka government. With the latest arrival of arms the Sri Lankan security forces have started their callous attacks on areas densely populated with civilians, in the Jaffna Peninsula, utterly oblivious to the loss of civilian lives.


UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan has expressed his concern twice (Press Releases: SG/SM/7385 - 9 May 2000 and SG/SM/7416 - 24 May 2000) regarding the escalation of fighting in Sri Lanka and has appealed to all parties to avoid placing civilian lives at risk.


The ICRC, MSF, UNHCR, UNICEF, Amnesty international and other organisations have expressed their concern over the safety of the civilians, including children, caught up in the escalating conflict in the Jaffna peninsula.


According to aid agencies, a home for the age in Kaithaddy in the eastern part of Jaffna peninsula was hit by artillery shells on 19 May 2000, killing 15 elderly people and wounding 32 people. The wounded could not receive proper medical treatment because of the shortage of medical facilities due to the Economic embargo to this area.


In the meantime a bomb exploded on 17 May, near Mangalaramaya Vihara in Batticaloa in the eastern province resulting in 23 Tamil civilians being killed and forty-five others wounded. According to eyewitnesses most of the civilians were killed due to the firing of the security forces which took place soon after the bomb explosion.


According to our sources in Jaffna, within the last ten days ­ more than a 100  civilians have been killed and 400 wounded in the Jaffna peninsula, due to Kfir aerial bombing and artillery shelling. Included in these were the killing of four civilians when the Sri Lankan army shelled the village of Kallikaadu on 21st May and a young mother and her infant son killed in their home by army shelling on 26th May.


The ratio of Tamil people killed in the island of Sri Lanka is very high compared to its total population. This abhorrent ethnic cleansing by the government of Sri Lanka should be taken seriously and the earliest possible action should be taken to stop it.


We request every individual and organisation to send appeals to the President of Sri Lanka to demand her to stop the killing of Tamil people and the ethnic cleansing in the island. Also request the President to find a lasting and peaceful negotiated solution to the island's bloody ethnic conflict.

 

Thank you.

The address of the President of Sri Lanka :

Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga,

Presidential Residence,

Colombo 3,

Sri Lanka

 

Fax: 94 - 1 - 333 - 703

 

Please send a copy of your appeal to the Head of State of the country in which you reside. Thank you.

 

* * * * * *

 

TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ­ TCHR

(Estd. 1990)

 

Ref. No. AC/07/05                 URGENT APPEAL                                       04/05/2000

 

Imminent danger in the Island of Sri Lanka!

 

More than sixteen years of bloody ethnic conflict in the island of Sri Lanka has resulted in 65,000 deaths, nearly 1 million internally displaced people, billions of rupees worth of property damaged - including schools and religious places destroyed to ashes. More than 600,000 people have sought political asylum in foreign countries.

 

TCHR has documented the mass arrests, frequent aerial bombardments, torture, disappearances, extra-judicial killings, violence against women and other human rights violations. We produce reports with detailed information annexed to affidavits, which are forwarded as proof to the United Nations human rights forums and to other International human rights organisations.

 

The Government of Sri Lanka exaggerates and censors news of the war situation in order to divert the attention of the international community away from its massive human rights violations. The war is taking place in the Tamil homeland -North-east and the people within this area are the targeted victims of this conflict. The Economic embargo to the densely populated Tamil regions has caused starvation, death and disease due to lack of food and medical supplies. Every Tamil in this island is the victim of this humanitarian disaster in one way or another.

 

If we consider the present military build-up in the light of the economy of this island, it is obvious that the loss of lives and destruction of normal life is, in fact caused by foreign aid to Sri Lanka! It has been repeatedly said by veteran economists in the past, that the stopping of foreign aid to Sri Lanka is the ONLY WAY to ensure the cessation of war, and a negotiated political settlement to the island’s ethnic conflict.

 

In the early 70’s, Air Ceylon ­ the national airline of Sri Lanka had only ONE AIRCRAFT - it was on lease! In the recent past, Sri Lanka has obtained an unlimited supply of powerful Kfir bombers and various types of war planes and sophisticated military hardware from many countries. These were used exclusively against the Tamil people. Sri Lanka’s financial predicament is well known and much has been written on the subject. Spending on health, education and social services has plummeted over the years while military spending has soared astronomically. The massive defence expenditure cannot be met by the country’s revenue! An annual sum of around $860 million given by the Paris Aid Consortium of the World Bank and IMF is more or less equivalent to the military expenditure of the Sri Lankan government! It is crystal clear that Foreign aid artificially bolsters the Sri Lankan government, financing, aiding and abetting the present war.

 

The latest news from Colombo-Sri Lanka alerts the world ­ stating that there is imminent danger on this island! The Sri Lankan Government is seeking help from Britain, Israel, Russia, Czech Republic, Iran, Pakistan and Singapore for sophisticated military hardware to continue this war.

 

This latest move by the Sri Lanka government is a serious threat to peace-loving people in the world. The present request for more military hardware will certainly bring more death and destruction to the Tamil people who are already undergoing severe human rights violations by the Sri Lankan security forces.

 

When the same request for military help was made to the Indian government, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Mr. Jaswant Singh, stated on 4th May, in New Delhi, that "India will work to mitigate the hardship inflicted on civilians by the conflict, taking such humanitarian measures as become necessary in consultation with Sri Lanka."


In the recently concluded Geneva UN Commission on Human Rights ­ 56th session, countries such as Australia, Canada, Portugal (on behalf of the European Union) and many NGOs made statements regarding the deteriorating human rights situation Sri Lanka. The latest reports of the UN Special Rapporteurs on Extra-judicial killings, Torture, Independence of lawyers and judges, Freedom of expression etc. and the report of the UN Working group on disappearances are all highly critical of the Sri Lankan government’s human rights record. According to the Working group on disappearances, Sri Lanka has 12,258 disappearances and this is the second highest number compared to other countries. Sri Lanka was the ONLY COUNTRY where the UN Working group on disappearances has visited THREE TIMES!

 

 

We request every individual and organisation to send appeals to the above-mentioned countries (addresses and fax numbers are given below) requesting them not to supply any arms to Sri Lanka and to demand that the Sri Lankan government find a lasting and peaceful negotiated solution to the ethnic problem in this island.

 

Thank you.

 

(Preferable salutation to address Ambassadors: Your Excellency.)

 

BRITAIN

Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN,

Rue de Vermont 37-39,

1211 Geneva 20 - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 918 23 33

 

ISRAEL

Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN,

Avenue de la Paix 1-3,

1202 Geneva - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 716 05 55

 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN,

Avenue de la Paix 15,

1211 Geneva - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 734 40 44

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN,

Chemin Louis Dunant 17,

1211 Geneva 20 - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 740 36 62

 

IRAN

Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN,

Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28,

1209 Geneva - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 733 02 03

 

PAKISTAN

Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN,

Rue de Moillebeau 56,

1211 Geneva 19 - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 734 80 85

 

SINGAPORE

Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore to the UN,

International Centre Cointrin (ICC),

Bloc G (6eme etage),

Route de Pre-Bois 20,

1215 Geneva 15 - SWITZERLAND

Fax: 00 41 22 929 66 58

 

* * * * * *

 

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

(Established in 1990)

 

URGENT ACTION

 

28th February 2000                                                                          Ref. No. AE/03/02

 

 

ASSASSINATION OF KUMAR PONNAMBALAM HAS CLUES,

BUT NO PROPER INVESTIGATIONS

 

 

With reference to our Urgent Action - Ref No. AE/02/01 of 5 January 2000, we would like to bring the following matters to the concern of all human rights organisations, human rights activists and persons committed to promoting values of human dignity and worth.

 

Our observations on information that TCHR has received since the assassination of the human rights defender Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, strongly indicate that a serious cover-up and manipulation by the investigators are taking place.

 

So far, no proper and serious inquiry has been carried out regarding this assassination! We would like to draw your attention to the press release of the Tamil Information Centre (TIC), in London, dated January 06, 2000. This states that "The Tamil Information Centre understands that Police Officers who came to the scene of the killing of Ramesh Nadarajah (Editor of a weekly Tamil news paper) had told concerned MPs that they would not spend time in investigating the case as it was not done by the LTTE and that they have no interest in the case!"

 

When a crime is reported in Sri Lanka it is the local police in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred that investigates along with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). In the case of Mr Ponnambalam's assassination, it is the Wellawatte police along with the CID that ought to

be investigating the crime. However, on the 3rd day after the murder, this case was handed over to the Colombo Detective Bureau (CDB) on the instruction of the President and the Inspector General of Police. This is highly irregular.

 

Even though the person named "Shantha", referred to in our previous Urgent Action had come to the family home, had sat and spoken with Mr Ponnambalam before going in the car with him, and even though the CID had been informed of this, no attempt was made to find out where he sat in the house, which chair he sat on, or to take finger-prints anywhere in Mr Ponnambalam's home.

 

According to a human rights lawyer and a good friend of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, there was an eyewitness to this assassination! He is Mr. "X", a businessman in Colombo. Mr "X" had gone in a trishaw to Ramakrishna Terrace via Marine Drive and Ramakrishna road. As the trishaw turned into Ramakrishna Road he had seen a jet-black Isuzu Trooper jeep with dark tinted windows parked at the bottom of Ramakrishna Road. He had proceeded up the Road and turned into Ramakrishna Terrace where he had seen Mr Ponnambalam's car parked on one side to the left.

 

He had noted a man seated in the left-hand front seat of the car and another man standing outside the window closest to Mr Ponammbalam. He had driven past them and had got off opposite No. 7 Ramakrishna Terrace and had rung the bell/knocked on the gate. There had been no reply from the house.

 

At that point he heard what he described as fire-crackers. He had not taken special note of this, as it was the festive season. Since there was still no response from the house he had turned to go back towards Ramakrishna Road when he saw the individual standing outside the window where Mr Ponnambalam was seated, tuck a gun that seemed like a revolver /pistol into his waist

and pull the shirt over it. The other man had got out of the car by this time and they were both "casually" walking towards Mr "X", that is, towards Vivekananda Road. Then he found that a person had been shot dead inside that particular car.

 

Immediately he brought this fact to the notice of two policemen who were nearby at the time. When he told these policemen about the killing, they said that they had come to that area because they had received information that there was a suspicious vehicle parked and it had been there for some time. In fact, even the policemen were referring to the same "Isuzu Trooper

Jeep" which the businessman had seen.

 

In Sri Lanka, the vehicle referred to above, is only used by the Security forces, especially by the Sri Lanka Army, Ministerial Security Division (MSD) and the Presidential Security Division(PSD).

 

Furthermore, we feel it important to note that the Government Analyst Department who examined the car in which Mr. Ponnambalam was killed could not find any fingerprints anywhere on this car. Even Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam's finger-prints could not be found on the driver's wheel, or anywhere else! The Government Analyst Department checked the car on three separate

occasions yet could not recover any evidence whatsoever, and could not find any bullets in this car. Whereas later, two bullets were found in this car by others.

 

A columnist of the Sunday leader of February 13th 2000 has said in his article "It is indeed frightening that anyone called Shantha could become an automatic suspect in the Kumar Ponnambalam case. But then again there are reservations. The media in recent times has been full of allegations about an individual called 'Shantha' who is allegedly a member of the Presidential Security Division. He has been 'credited' with several acts of violence against civilians considered as enemies of this government. But the police so far have not interviewed this gentleman so far in this regard."

 

It is a well-known fact that that Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam was an able Criminal Lawyers in Sri Lanka, who had seen many criminals and murderers in his life-time. Therefore, anyone with bogus information such as a false name, address, profession, etc could not have approached him.

 

The talk in Colombo is that the organisation which claimed this assassination is not a fake one, but it is considered a front organisation of the Government.

 

In the light of the above information, we kindly request you to send letters / faxes of protest to the President of Sri Lanka and the Inspector General of Police, urging a genuine, rigorous and serious inquiry into this matter and to follow up every suspect whatever sector they belong to or work in. TCHR recommends that the Sri Lanka government should conduct a public inquiry into the brutal assassination of Kumar Ponnambalam.

 

 

Thank you.

 

 

The address of the President and IGP are given below :

 

Her Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga,

 

Presidential Residence,

Colombo 3, Sri Lanka

 

Fax: 94 - 1 - 333 - 703

 

 

Inspector General of Police,

Police Headquarters,

New

Secretariat,

Colombo 1,

Sri Lanka

 

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TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR

Le Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de l’Homme - CTDH

 

 

 

5th January 2000              URGENT PRESS RELEASE    Ref: AE/02/01

 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER MR G G PONNAMBALAM,

WAS ASSASSINATED TODAY

 

 

Mr G.G. Ponnambalam Jn. (known to everyone as Kumar Ponnambalam) was involved in human rights for many years. He was a leading lawyer in Colombo. Gunmen assassinated him in cold blood this morning in Wellawatta in Colombo. The post-mortum carried out tonight revealed five revolver shots behind his Right eye and one bullet in his shoulder.

 

According to his family members and friends, Mr Ponnambalam had been contacted by a Sinhalese person in recent times, who had arranged to meet him today. He had told the person that he would be at home and would not be going to the Courts, so the person came to his home at 10.00am this morning. They both Went to Wellawatta. He never returned.

 

Mr Ponnambalam, as a prominent expert and able criminal lawyer defended thousands of Tamil people, over many years, who suffered gross and systematic violations of human rights at the hands of the Sri Lankan government security forces - the Special Task Force, the Army and the Navy. The Attorney-General Department has stated that Mr Ponnammbalam held 98% of the cases which went through their department, which is virtually equivalent to the entire number of cases fought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

 

Mr Ponnambalam filed many reports on important human rights cases. These include the internationally known case of gang-rape and murder of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy which led to the eventual revelation of the eighteen mass graves, including Chemmani, in the Jaffna Peninsula.

 

His work became a challenge to the Sri Lankan government, which with its record of massive human rights violations amounting to genocide, met in him a force to be reckoned with.

 

Mr Ponnambalam spoke out for human rights also in the international arena. He denounced the torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances and extra-judicial killings of Tamil people at the hands of the Sri Lankan government’s security forces, in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1997 and 1999. Amongst many important international bodies, he addressed members of the European Parliament in Brusselles and the Royal Institute in London-U.K

 

In December 1998 Mr Ponnambalam was threatened with being arrested by the present government of Sri Lanka. The Tamil Centre for Human Rights brought this to the notice of human rights organisations and international bodies. Eventually, he was interrogated by the Sri Lankan Police in his home.

 

Everyone knew that Mr Ponnambalam had been facing a threat by the Chandrika overnment for a long time. On certain International platforms Mr Ponnambalam stated openly that President Chandrika Kumaratunga was “after his blood”. Recently he stated that the government was “looking for his blood”.

 

Today this has become a tragic and sad reality.

 

Mr Ponnambalam was also a devoted husband and father. He leaves his wife Dr. Yogi, his daughter Mrinalini aged 27 and his son Gajendrakumar aged 26.

 

Mr Ponnambalam was a brave and tireless champion of civil and political rights, and fundamental human rights. He was not afraid to speak out on Human rights and this has cost him his life. His assassination marks a tragic loss for all who strive for the cause of justice and human rights.

 

We appeal to all individuals and human rights organisations to strongly condemn this callous and heinous act.

 

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TAMIL  CENTRE  FOR  HUMAN  RIGHTS - TCHR

Le Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de lHomme - CTDH

 

 

4th January 2000                  URGENT  ACTION                     Ref: AC/01/00

 

 

BRUTAL GANG-RAPE AND MURDER OF YOUNG WOMAN BY SRI  LANKA  NAVY

 

On the evening of Tuesday 28th December 1999, Sarathambal Saravanbavananthakurukal, of a Hindu Brahmin family, was forcibly dragged from her home, in Pungudutivu, near Jaffna Peninsula, by Sri Lankan Navy soldiers. They then gang-raped and murdered her in cold blood. The body of the 29 year-old mother was found the following morning, under leaves, not far from her home near Kannaki Amman Temple.

 

As the news of yet another horrific rape and murder case of a Tamil woman by Sri Lankan security forces reaches the world outside the island of Sri Lanka, President Chandrika Kumaratunga was reported to have ordered an immediate investigation on 30th December 1999. The Sri Lankan government, it appears, wishes to act speedily to avoid the involvement of human rights organisations in the matter.

 

 

IMPUNITY

 

According to the witness of Sarathambals neighbours the real suspects have already been transferred from the area to prevent action being taken against them. This is a familiar method used by the Sri Lankan government to avoid scrutiny. The climate of impunity continues to reign. It has frequently been pointed out that when the Sri Lankan government does, in rare cases, order an inquiry into human rights violations, the motivation stems from a desire to silence public and international criticism, rather than a genuine commitment to protect human rights and prevent further violations.

 

RAPE AS WEAPON OF WAR

 

The Sri Lankan security forces are still using gang-rape and murder of Tamil women and girls, with chilling and systematic regularity, to subjugate and terrorise the Tamil people. Rape is being used as a weapon of war. The Sri Lankan government is in grave breach of its obligations as signatory to the Geneva conventions, including Common Article 3.

 

TCHR has records of catalogues of rape and murder cases of Tamil women by Sri Lankan security forces in Sri Lankan army occupied Jaffna, in the North, and in the East of the island, including Amparai. The actual number of rape cases is far higher than recorded. Many Tamil women who survive the trauma

want to remain unidentified due to cultural sensitivities within the community.

 

TCHR urges all human rights organisations and bodies of the international community to express outrage at this latest odious case of gang-rape and murder, in order to help prevent further atrocities and violence against Tamil women.

                                                   Thank you.

 

 

 

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