Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka

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Kandy: The damage and the distrust

by Amalini De Sayrah

In Akurana, bunting with the words ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ hangs inside a quiet home.
In Digana, newly built shops hurry to restock for weeks of festive shopping.
In Pallekele, kanji is being cooked over a wood fire, inside the room of a burned mosque.
Preparations for Eid are underway in these small towns, no more than 12 kilometres away from the busy city of Kandy. The district itself is home to a population of 1,369,899 people, of which 72.92% are Buddhist and 10.46% are Muslim. This year, the celebrations are muted in the wake of a series of violent attacks that took place in March.
Three months after the attacks, families in AkuranaAmbatennePallekeleDigana and Katugastota shared their experiences and reflections during a visit to the areas in the first week of June. Individuals whose homes and businesses were damaged by Sinhala-Buddhist extremist mobs spoke with increasing frustration of the inadequate State response to the violence. They also outlined the probable causes that would motivate these groups to wreak this violence.

Read the full article here.

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Invisible Barriers: The Struggle to Combat Violence, Online and Off 

By Amalini De Sayrah and Raisa Wickrematunge
Rights activists have been abducteddetained and assaulted in the pursuit of their work in Sri Lanka, both during and after the war. Even under the present government, the crackdown on the freedom of expression continues, with activists subjected to surveillance, threats and outright violence over the past year. Additionally, women activists face other invisible barriers.
Women have played a key role in activism throughout history. Movements such as ‘Kulangana Samithi’ and ‘Mahila Samithi’ became important entry points for women into public life, and to working for women’s interests since the pre-Independence era. And yet, woman activists are perceived as somehow suspect for the most incredible reasons, for example, when speaking out about issues in public fora, traveling frequently, working with men in the field, or simply for using WhatsApp and Facebook – as those interviewed for this piece told Groundviews.
The vicious commentary levelled at women, when they do speak on controversial issues, is revealing.
View full story here.

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Mothers of the DISSAPEARED are coming to Colombo to commemorate Mothers day…
Protests and handing over the petition to authorities

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We need to stand against unconditionally the culture of disappearance in Sri Lanka. The so called “White Van” culture that prevailed during the last regime must be stopped. It is seen that, people from poor and middle class families are most often subjected to disappearance, but not the people from affluent families. When we lay the foundation today for a society that opposes the culture of disappearance, it will ensure that in future our children and relatives will be safe from such practices.

A petition in this regard was handed over today to the British High Commission, United Nations, Presidential Office, and Office of the Prime Minister, Foreign Ministry, and the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR).

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Dr.Nimalaka Frenando moderates discussion on Sri Lankan disappearances’ @ HRC30 side event on 18th Sept. 2015.

Sri Lankan disappearances activists Sandhya Ekneligoda and Varthana Sunthararajah spoke at a side event of HRC30 on 18 Sep 2015. අතුරුදහන් කරන ලද සිය සැමියන් පිළබඳ ඉක්මන් සහ සාධාරණ පරීක්ෂණ ඉල්ලමින් සන්ධ්‍යා එක්නැළිගොඩ සහ වරතනා සුන්දර්රාජ් සැප් 18දින මාව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේ 30 වන සැසිවාරය අතරතුර පැවැති සමාන්තර රැස්වීමකදි කතා කළෝය. Fr. Yogeswran who is a cmpaigner for obtaiing justice for the disappered too spoke. The discussion was modareted by HR activist Nimalaka Frenando. අතුරුදහන්වූවන්ට යුක්තිය සහ සාධාරණත්වය ලබා දෙන ලෙස කැරෙන ව්‍යාපාරයන්හි ක්‍රියාකාරිකයකු වන යෝගේෂ්වරන් පියතුමා ද අදහස් දැක්වූ එම රැස්විම මෙහෙයවූයේ ඉමෙඩා සභාපතිනිය වන මානව හිමිකම්  ක්‍රියාකාරිනී නිමල්කා ප්‍රනාන්දු විසිනි.

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Over 5700 cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka says UN

The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, presenting its report to the UN Human Rights Council at the Council’s 27th session in Geneva currently underway, condemned the ongoing use of enforced disappearances by states.

“Forced disappearances is not just a crime of the past, it is still being used in conflict situations, where there is internal instability, or in order to fight terrorism and organised crime. Enforced disappearance cannot and must not be the response to such challenges,” said the Chair Rapporteur on Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Ariel Dulitzky, adding that “enforced disappearance is a flagrant violation of the basic principles which underpin the international system of human rights.”

The Working Group reported over 43,000 cases of enforced disappearances in 88 countries, including over 5700 in Sri Lanka, as well as 16,400 in Iraq, 3000 in Algeria and over 2000 in Guatemala, El Salvador and Peru.

“We would like to thank states who cooperate with us. Others concern us as they have never replied to our invitation or they have supplied us with irrelevant information,” the Rapporteur added.

The Sri Lankan government continues to refuse entry to the Working Group, which first requested entry in 1996, stating that it will refuse entry until after the Presidential Commission on Missing Persons concludes its work.

The Rapporteur went on to add: “It is still being used, because there are thousands of cases of enforced disappearances, which started decades ago but have still not been solved. Thousands of families do not know the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones and they do not receive truth, justice or reparations.

Very often we are told that we cannot do more to look for the disappeared in order not to open wounds of the past. The Working Group’s experience shows us the opposite, where wounds fester and we often have to open up graves in order to close and heal the tragic consequences of mistaken security

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