Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH
Email : email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
31 August 2001
UN World Conference Against Racism
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.
S. V. Kirubaharan
General Secretary - TCHR
* * * * * *
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH
Centre Tamoul pour les Droits de l'Homme
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
05 January 2001
ASSASSINATION OF KUMAR PONNAMBALAM
FIRST YEAR COMMEMORATION
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
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.
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.
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
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!".
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.
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.
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.
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
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
issued the following Urgent Actions regarding the assassination of Kumar
1 - On 5 January 2000 - (Ref. No:
"Human Rights Defender Mr Kumar Ponnambalam
was assassinated today".
2 - On 28 February 2000 - (Ref. No :
"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
BARBARIC KILLINGS ON THE INCREASE
IN SRI LANKA
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
all concerned individuals and human rights organisations to:
that the Sri Lankan government produce the 20 missing young persons.
these barbaric murders and call for an independent inquiry.
Immediately release or charge the Tamil political detainees.
the draconian and inhuman PTA and ERs which facilitate such killings.
Excellency President Chandrika B Kumaratunga,
Fax: 94 - 1
- 333 - 703
Mr G L
General of Police,
* * * * *
CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME CTDH - TCHR
Tamil Centre for Human Rights TCHR - TCHR
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.
Her Excellency President Chandrika B Kumaratunga,
Fax: 94 - 1 - 333 - 703
Inspector General of Police,
* * * * * * *
TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS - TCHR
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.
Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga,
94 - 1 - 333 - 703
send a copy of your appeal to the Head of State of the country in which you
reside. Thank you.
* * * * *
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
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
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!
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.
(Preferable salutation to address Ambassadors: Your Excellency.)
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
Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN,
Avenue de la Paix 1-3,
1202 Geneva - SWITZERLAND
Fax: 00 41 22 716 05 55
Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN,
Avenue de la Paix 15,
1211 Geneva - SWITZERLAND
Fax: 00 41 22 734 40 44
Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN,
Chemin Louis Dunant 17,
1211 Geneva 20 - SWITZERLAND
Fax: 00 41 22 740 36 62
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
Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN,
Rue de Moillebeau 56,
1211 Geneva 19 - SWITZERLAND
Fax: 00 41 22 734 80 85
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
* * * * * *
Ref. No. AE/03/02
OF KUMAR PONNAMBALAM HAS CLUES,
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
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
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
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
address of the President and IGP are given below :
Excellency President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga,
3, Sri Lanka
94 - 1 - 333 - 703
General of Police,
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TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN
RIGHTS - TCHR
Le Centre Tamoul pour
les Droits de l’Homme - CTDH
January 2000 URGENT
PRESS RELEASE Ref:
RIGHTS DEFENDER MR G G PONNAMBALAM,
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
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
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.
* * * * *
TAMIL CENTRE FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR
Le Centre Tamoul pour
les Droits de lHomme - CTDH
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.
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
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.
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