Colombo Telegraph

Civil Society Condemns Poster Campaign Vilifying Dr. Saravanamuttu

Prominent civil society organizations and activists in Sri Lanka by a statement signed by 19 organizations and 20 individuals, have condemned the appearance of posters vilifying Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, and those associated with him, in and around Colombo, on October 15, 2012. 

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director - CPA

The statement further said that they see this to be one more in a series of attacks that have been, and that continue to be, mounted against Sri Lankan citizens who are critical of authoritarian and arbitrary acts of the government and who demand accountability and justice for human rights violations.

The posters denounce Dr. Saravanamuttu, saying he is depriving fifteen hundred thousand poor Sri Lankan families of benefits under the proposed Divineguma Bill, and says that he and his ‘gang’ support the separation of the country. We see this to be a hostile reaction to the steps taken by Dr. Saravanamuttu and his organization, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), to challenge the constitutionality of the Divineguma Bill, which was placed before Parliament on August 10, 2012. Among the concerns raised by the petitioners were the potential for infringement on some powers devolved to Provincial Councils by law. The right to challenge the constitutionality of any Bill placed before Parliament is, according to our Constitution, enjoyed by every citizen of Sri Lanka. The issue continues to be under consideration by the Supreme Court.

Dr. Nimalka Fernando, one of the signatories and the President of the International Organization against discrimination and Racism said that the group condemn this action without reservation and call on the government and its law enforcement agencies to take all steps to uncover those responsible for the printing and publication of these posters.

Full statement will follow:

Civil Society Statement on the posters vilifying Dr. P. Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternative (CPA)

As civil society organizations and activists committed to the protection of human rights, democracy and peace with justice in Sri Lanka, we are gravely concerned by the appearance of posters vilifying our colleague, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, and those associated with him, in and around Colombo, on October 15, 2012. We see this as another act in a series of attacks against civil society actors who are seen to be critical of the government.

The posters denounce Dr. Saravanamuttu, saying he is depriving fifteen hundred thousand poor Sri Lankan families of benefits under the proposed Divineguma Bill, and says that he and his ‘gang’ support the separation of the country. We see this to be a hostile reaction to the steps taken by Dr. Saravanamuttu and his organization, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), to challenge the constitutionality of the Divineguma Bill, which was placed before Parliament on August 10, 2012. Among the concerns raised by the petitioners were the potential for infringement on some powers devolved to Provincial Councils by law. The right to challenge the constitutionality of any Bill placed before Parliament is, according to our Constitution, enjoyed by every citizen of Sri Lanka. The issue continues to be under consideration by the Supreme Court.

Although the posters bear no imprint, and thereby violate the law, there has been no attempt made so far to investigate the printing and dissemination of these posters and bring those responsible for this illegal act before justice. While we are well aware that in the past some political parties as well as civil society organizations have been compelled to resort to printing and publicising posters without an imprint because of the persistent repression of the freedom of opinion and expression, in this case we feel that these posters spread ideas of hatred against an individual and the ideas he stands for and are therefore indefensible in the name of the freedom of expression.

We see this to be one more in a series of attacks that have been, and that continue to be, mounted against Sri Lankan citizens who are critical of authoritarian and arbitrary acts of the government and who demand accountability and justice for human rights violations.

We condemn this action without reservation and call on the government and its law enforcement agencies to take all steps to uncover those responsible for the printing and publication of these posters.

Sgd:

Organisations:

1.    Mr Britto Fernando –  Family Organisation of the Disappeared

2.    Mr Sudarshana Gunawardana – Rights Now Collective for Democracy

3.    Dr. Nimalka Fernando  – IMADR (Asia Committee)

4.    Mr. Herman Kumara – National Fisheries Solidarity Association

5.    Ms. Padmini Weerasooriya – Mothers and Daughters of Lanka

6.    Mr. J. C Weliamuna AAL – Lawyers for Democracy

7.    Mr. Philip Dissanayake – Right to Life Human Rights Centre

8.    Mr. Freddy Gamage  – Centre for People’s Dialogue

9.    Ms Sunila Abeysekera  – INFORM

10.  Dr. Jehan Perera  – National Peace Council

11.   Ms. Visaka Dharmadasa – Association Women Affected by War

12.   Fr. Nandana Manatunga- Human Rights Office

13.   P.P. Sivapragasam – Human Development Organization
14.   R. Nadarasa –           Workers Solidarity Union

15.   Mr. K S Ratnavale, AAL – Centre for Human Rights and Development

16.  Ms. Sherine Xavier – Home for Human Rights

17.  Rev. Ashok Stephen – Centre for Society and Religion

18.  Ms. Mala Liyanage   –   Law and Society Trust

19.  Ms. Pushpa Chandrakanthi – Savisthri

Individuals:

 

 

  1. Mr. Lal Wijenayake, Attorney at Law
  2. Mr. Chandra Kumarage. Attorney-at-Law
  3. Mr  R M B Senanayake – Retried Civil Servant
  4. Mr. Gamini Viyangoda, Writer and Journlist
  5. Mr. Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Visual Artist
  6. Ms  Shreen Abdul Saroor  – Women’s Rights Activist
  7. Ms  Damaris Wickramasekera  – Civil Society Activist
  8. Mr  Kusal Perera  – Journalist
  9. Dr.  Sepali Kottegoda  –
  10. Mr.  Lakshan Dias  – Attorney-at-Law
  11. Mr. P N. Singam
  12. Mr. Ruki Fernando
  13. Rev. Fr Rohan Silva
  14. Ms. Visaka Tillerkeratne
  15. Dr. Devanesan Nesiah
  16. Dr. Anita Nesiah
  17. Mr. Mohamed Mahuruf
  18. Mr. Sampath Puspakumara Attorney-at-Law
  19. Mr. Udaya Kalupathirana
  20. Rev. Sr Angela Fernando

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Hate Poster Campaign Against Civil Society Launched In Colombo

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