Tag Archives: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: TGTE Launches Petition Calling for UN Response to Recent Attack on Tamil Lawyers in Sri Lanka

October 9, 2019

In light of the police-facilitated mob violence perpetrated with impunity against Tamil lawyers outside the Mullaitivu Magistrate court in North-East Sri Lanka on Monday, September 23, 2019, as well as the state-sanctioned and police-facilitated open public defiance of a court injunction that precipitated the assault, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)has launched a petition calling on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Mr. Diego García-Sayán, to secure a country visit to Sri Lanka without delay in order to investigate, document and report on the historic and ongoing gross violations of the independence of Tamil judges and security of Tamil lawyers, in the island of Sri Lanka.

“The events of September 23rd were not an isolated incident but rather only the most recent episode in Sri Lanka’s long history of blatant disregard for the rule of law, the separation of powers, and human rights when it serves the Buddhist Sinhalese ethnocratic state agenda,” said TGTE Prime Minister Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran. “These events have provoked moral anger among lawyers and human rights activists worldwide.”

“We cannot let these actions go unanswered. An attack on an Eelam Tamil lawyer is a threat to all Eelam Tamil lawyers to perform their legal obligations. The international community, especially institutions that consider themselves human rights guardians, cannot afford to turn a blind eye in this matter. Silence in the wake of events like these is what allows impunity to reign.”, Mr. Rudrakumaran added.

The specific court injunction defied was one prohibiting the administration of Buddhist funeral rites on the grounds of a Hindu temple in Mullaitivu, part of the traditional Tamil Homeland. The Sri Lankan police sent to the area did not take any action to prevent the criminally-intended group of Buddhist adherents from successfully violating the injunction. Instead, Sri Lankan police escorted the group as it carried out the prohibited funeral rites and also barred Tamils from entering the area. Then, when members of the group harassed and physically attacked the Tamil lawyers present who had worked to secure the injunction and who attempted to question why the cremation was proceeding despite the legal order, the police merely watched. It is elucidating that, as reported in the Tamil Guardian, one monk “taunted the Tamil objectors by stating that Buddhist monks held supremacy in Sri Lanka.”

https://www.einnews.com/pr_news/498685739/tgte-launches-petition-calling-for-un-response-to-recent-attack-on-tamil-lawyers-in-sri-lanka

https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/lawyers-continue-strike-across-north-east-after-assaults-buddhist-monks

http://newsonair.nic.in/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=371997

Sri Lanka: Assassinated human rights lawyer Kumar Ponnambalam remembered 18 years on

January 5, 2018

Human rights lawyer and former leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), Kumar Ponnambalam, was remembered today on the 18th anniversary of his death.

Mr Ponnambalam was shot dead by unidentified gunman on January 5th, 2000, whilst in his car on Ramakrishna Lane, in the Tamil area of Colombo, Wellawatte.

He was renowned for his pro bono work in defending Tamil and Sinhala youths detained under Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and had filed reports in important human rights cases that incriminated the Chandrika government, including the gang rape and murder of the Tamil girl, Krishanthi Kumaraswamy and mass graves in Chemmani.

His murder came a few days after he had written an open letter to then president Chandrika, condemning her anti-Tamil policies.

He was remembered today by the Tamil National People’s Front at the party’s heaquarters in Kantharmadam, Jaffna.

http://www.tamilguardian.com/content/assassinated-human-rights-lawyer-kumar-ponnambalam-remembered-18-years

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kumar_Ponnambalam

Sri Lanka: Deep concerns raised over recent attempts to silence dissent

June 27, 2017

A group of individuals and organisations committed to human rights and democratic freedoms, and the rights of freedom of expression and dissent, have expressed deep concerns over recent attempts to stifle voices of human rights activists and silence dissent.

A statement signed by nearly 100 individuals and organisations noted that on 17th June, Minister for Justice and Buddha Sasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, publicly threatened to remove Lakshan Dias, Attorney-at-Law, and a well-known human rights activist, from the legal profession, in response to Mr. Dias raising the issues of attacks on Christian places of worship since 2015. The Minister prefaced this by virtually condemning human rights NGOs in general. He said, “In our country there are organisations who claim to be protecting human rights, who are dependent on NGO funds, who are trying to destroy the peace between the peoples of our country and turn this country back into a heap of fire; there are a few individuals like that.”

Minister Rajapakshehas since been reported reiterating his comments in an interview to newspaper, claiming that “NGO funded traitors” are fermenting unrest in the country. He also claimed that the NGOs misled the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, who, in her latest report, highlighted some serious shortcomings in Sri Lanka’s justice system.

“It is as much a matter of great concern as it is revealing, that a senior cabinet minister presiding over the Ministry of Justice in the so-called Yahapalanaya government, resorts to vilifying, demonizing and threatening human rights activists and human rights NGOs. While hardly the first such instance, it is especially ironic that his comments come as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a consultation process with human rights activists and NGOs on its draft report to the UN Human Rights Council as part of its Universal Period Review (UPR). Human rights activists and NGOs have been issued an open invitation to participate in the meetings as part of this UPR process. Under the circumstances the question arises to whether and how we can expect a principled engagement given the failure of the government to officially distance itself from Minister Rajapakshe’s disturbing comments,” the statement said.

http://colombogazette.com/2017/06/27/deep-concerns-raised-over-recent-attempts-to-silence-dissent/

http://srilankabrief.org/2017/06/in-the-face-of-justice-minsters-threat-to-lakshan-dias-a-committed-hr-lawyer-hrd-we-stand-in-solidarity/

http://dailynews.lk/2017/06/27/local/120177/alleged-attack-160-churches-basl-asks-lawyer-come-clean

http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/I-am-on-unequal-ground–131710.html

http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Laws-needed-to–131852.html

https://www.premier.org.uk/News/World/Sri-Lankan-lawyer-threatened-after-commenting-on-religious-intolerance

http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Govt-must-assure-democratic-space-and-freedom-132027.html

http://www.christiandaily.com/article/over-20-anti-christian-attacks-in-sri-lanka-recorded-in-2017/60702.htm

Sri Lanka: Well-known Lawyer Lakshan Dias Flees Sri Lanka After Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Threatens to Take Action in Two Days..

June 24, 2017

I was quite surprised to read the article by DBSJ about Chistian Bashing !

I know many Christians and  Muslims who live in Harmony in Sri Lanka.

I also followed the reaction from the minister where he stated that this lawyer should be struck off from the registry lawyers for making such statements

Then the news item says that THE LAWYER  has fled the country .

NGO’s who fund such scrupulous Human Right Lawyers may have promised him political refugee status in a western country?

Let him run away

We will find a way out to create a society with harmony among all like in Singapore .

This is why I keep advocating that we need the President to be firm in these instances and use his executive powers to stop these nonsense

If a minister is misbehaving like the ones in Wilpattu creating an impression among majority that his actions tantamount to religious –expansion ,he should also be kicked out .

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2017/06/24/well-known-lawyer-lakshan-dias-flees-sri-lanka-after-justice-minister-wijeyadasa-rajapakshe-threatens-to-take-action-in-two-days/

http://www.tamilguardian.com/content/sri-lanka-must-repudiate-threats-lawyer-speaking-out-against-attacks-minorities-hrw

https://www.slguardian.org/2017/06/sri-lanka-all-must-stand-together-against-religious-extremism/

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=167196

http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/53873#more-53873

Sri Lanka: Govt. blames threat to disbar lawyer on ‘holy’ mix-up

June 21, 2017

Following Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s threat to disbar lawyer Lakshan Dias, the government said yesterday that there had been some confusion over facts.

Responding to questions during the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing at the Information Department, Health Minister and Co-Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said that the mob attacks, according to the complainant Lakshan Dias, had been on Christian Churches and not Catholic Churches.

Confusion over the facts had led to a war of words, Senaratne noted, adding nevertheless it was wrong for anyone to destroy places of religious worship or go around threatening others.

Senaratne said that if unethical conversions were taking place, there was legal remedy to it.

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=167046

https://www.srilankacampaign.org/intimidation-lakshan-dias/

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/tolerating-religious-intolerance/article19141628.ece

http://www.idhae.org/observatoire-fr-page4.1.srl170620.htm (FRANCAIS)

Sri Lanka: Minister under fire for attack on Sri Lankan rights lawyer

June 20, 2017

Catholic devotees in Sri Lanka: a minister has come under fire for apparent ignorance about Christianity in the island

Sri Lanka’s justice minister faced calls for his resignation Tuesday after accusing a human rights lawyer of misleading the public about a spate of crimes against Christian places of worship.

Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakse threatened to disbar Lakshan Dias after Dias said nearly 200 Christian holy sites had been vandalised since a new government took office in 2015.

The justice minister demanded on national television that Dias apologise for making “inflammatory statements”, saying the Catholic church had personally assured him no such incidents had taken place.

However civil rights group were quick to point out that evangelical churches had long been targeted by radical groups. They suggested Rajapakse had confused Catholicism and evangelism and was not fit to serve as minister.

Human Rights Watch said the minister’s threat against a lawyer trying to defend a minority group would “have reverberations beyond Sri Lanka”.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-4621422/Minister-fire-attack-Sri-Lankan-rights-lawyer.html

http://menafn.com/1095569307/Government-urged-to-repudiate-statements-by-Wijeyadasa

http://www.ceylontoday.lk/print20170401CT20170630.php?id=23755

http://www.tamilguardian.com/content/sri-lanka-must-repudiate-threats-lawyer-speaking-out-against-attacks-minorities-hrw

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/211932-SL-minister-under-fire-over-attack-on-HR-lawyer

Sri Lanka: In support of religious minorities, rule of law and Lakshan Dias

June 19, 2017

Image result for Lakshan Dias lawyer

Religious minorities in Sri Lanka – particularly Muslims and Evangelical Christians – faced serious persecution under the Rajapakse Government, which has continued even under the Sirisena-Ranil Government. The Catholic Archbishop of Colombo, who has been hostile towards Evangelical Christians (a numerical minority amongst Christians), now appears to be assisting this Government’s approach of denying the actual problem and attacking those who are attempting to highlight the gravity of the problem. The latest victim is well known human rights lawyer and my good friend, Lakshan Dias.

Given the latest statements from the President and the Minister of Justice, and the general lack of focus on violations of religious rights of Evangelical Christians, I will focus on violence directed towards them (Evangelical Christian) in this article. Some of the systematic violence directed towards the Muslim community has been already well documented.[1]

Perhaps the most outrageous parts of this drama is the public threat by the Minister of Justice and Buddhasasana to take legal action to remove Lakshan from the legal profession, unless Lakshan apologizes for his comments within 24 hours.[14] Given that a Minister has no role to play in a process of the dismissal of a lawyer, this is clearly a political threat from the Minister.

I am amongst the many victims of injustice on whose behalf Lakshan has advocated in and out of courts. It is left to be seen if some of the many Christians and others Lakshan has defended, campaigned, and advocated for, will stand by Lakshan. And whether and to what extent the Bar Association in Sri Lanka, religious groups, media organizations and others concerned will respond to this threat, which appears to be a threat not just to Lakshan, but to the legal profession as a whole as well as to free expression, religious freedom and the rule of law.

http://groundviews.org/2017/06/18/in-support-of-religious-minorities-rule-of-law-and-lakshan-dias/

http://srilankabrief.org/2017/06/sri-lanka-justice-ministers-statement-utterly-reprehensible-unprecedented-and-a-serious-threat/

http://srilankabrief.org/2013/02/nfr-sri-lanka-expresses-deep-concern-on-the-threats-to-sri-lankan-human-rights-lawyer-lakshan-dias-and-calls-for-show-of-solidarity/

http://www.col3negone.net/attorney-lakshan-dias-must-make-a-public-apology/102491.html

http://www.lawasia.asn.au/dias_g_s__lakshan_j_s_speakerbio.html

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/lakshan-dias

http://srilankamirror.com/news/3529-lawyer-lakshan-dias-given-24-hours-video

http://www.ccbe.eu/NTCdocument/HR_letter_Sri_Lanka_1_1363247828.pdf

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/lakshan-dias-threatened-disbarment

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/19/sri-lanka-minister-threatens-defender-minority-rights