Sri Lanka

  • In 2005-2006, I was working at the FORUM-ASIA Secretariat based in Bangkok. As the conflict escalated in 2006, I decided to go home to Sri Lanka. When I eventually returned to Sri Lanka in early 2007, the experience and skills I had gained during my time in Bangkok, especially personal and professional contacts with human rights defenders (HRDs) in Asia and with regional and international organisations, proved to be crucial and lifesaving.

    Going back to chaos

           I left Sri Lanka in late 2004, a time of relative calm provided by a ceasefire. Still human rights abuses took place regularly, including killings, child soldier recruitment, and regular violations of the ceasefire by both the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan Government.

          But I came back to chaos. There was large scale enforced disappearances, extra-judicial executions, mass displacement, forcible recruitment including of children, and severe restrictions on traveling and communication. It was also a time where HRDs, including non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, humanitarian workers, independent journalists, clergy, and opposition politicians with critical views of the Government, were killed, disappeared, detained or threatened. Domestic human rights protection mechanisms, such as the Judiciary, National Human Rights Commission and the Ad Hoc Commissions of Inquiries, had become completely ineffective.

  •    For several years, the Free Media Movement (FMM) of Sri Lanka and free expression advocates has dubbed January as “Black January”. This was in the context of large number of journalists killed, disappeared, assaulted, as well as attacks on media institutions – all in January. 24th is one such Black day in January. The Trincomalee based Tamil journalist Subramaniyam Sugirtharajan, was shot dead on 24th January 2006. The Colombo based Sinhalese cartoonist and journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda disappeared on 24th January 2010.

    The almost forgotten journalist killing: Subramaniyam Sugirtharajan

    Sugirtharajan, popularly known as SSR, was a part-time provincial journalist working for the Tamil language daily Sudar Oli. He was a father of two children.

    The statement below was released by the laity of Sri Lanka to voice public support for decriminalizing abortion in some limited cases. It was created in reaction to the official stance taken by the Church hierarchy in Sri Lanka who intervened to stop decriminalization, condemning women and families to further suffer from the consequences of botched illegal abortions. 
    Over 100 Sri Lankan Catholics have signed this statement

    Statement from concerned members of the Catholic community in support of amending Penal Code No. 2 of 1883 and Code of Criminal Procedure Act No. 15 of 1979 for purposes of extending permitted instances of medical termination of pregnancy.

         We, the undersigned members of the Catholic community, support the proposed amendments that will expand abortion provisions in cases of rape, incest, and serious foetal impairment. The amendments do not compel anyone to have an abortion nor does it permit abortion in general. Rather, it simply decriminalizes procuring an abortion in two very limited cases. Criminalization of abortion does not prevent abortion but drives women to seek dangerous illegal abortions1.