Sending an open letter to all political parties, 94 Civil Society activists and 29 organisations have today urged that 8 key pledges to be included as firm pledges in party manifestos.
We the undersigned Sri Lankan civil society activists and organizations, wish to bring to your attention human rights issues of pivotal importance to reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity in our country, which we strongly believe should be included in your party manifestos for the forthcoming General Election.
During the campaign period leading to the January 2015 Presidential Election, the focus was governance and anti- corruption as the immediate need of the day to salvage democracy and restore the rule of law in Sri Lanka. There appeared to be a consensus that once this was done and an enabling environment thereby created, the longer term issues of peace and reconciliation, the process of transitional justice, an end to the culture of impunity in respect of all human rights violations and a political settlement of the ethnic conflict, would be addressed in earnest.
We are of the firm belief that the Parliament to be elected on the 17 of August will have to address these issues as a matter of the utmost priority if we as Sri Lankans are to realize the full potential for peace and prosperity in a truly united country that is inherent in all our fellow citizens. We have languished for too long in a post- war situation, in which the roots of conflict are sustained and even allowed to be reproduced. We need to move to a post-conflict situation characterized by the absence of human rights violations and in order to do so, we strongly urge that the following, in particular, be included as firm pledges in your manifestos.
1. Commit to a political and constitutional settlement of the ethnic conflict based on meaningful power-sharing.
2. Ensure families have access to the truth, and hold accountable all those responsible for enforced and involuntary disappearances, and that the crime of disappearances be criminalized under Sri Lankan Law.
3. Repeal or reform the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), bringing it in line with Sri Lanka’s international obligations, and that all long-term detainees be charged or released with immediate effect.
4. Zero tolerance on the issues of enforced and involuntary disappearance, torture, religious and gender based violence and attacks, suppression of dissent and threats on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).
5. Bring an end to the prevailing culture of impunity, and strengthen the judiciary to uphold the law and hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations.
6. Put in place processes and mechanisms of transitional justice in conformity with international standards, and continued, constructive engagement with victims, affected communities, local civil society groups and the international community.
7. Ensure an enabling environment for civil society activism.
8. Implement pro-people, participatory and sustainable economic, development and environmental policies, approaches and practices.
Let us NOT miss this historic opportunity for true reform and reconciliation!
Alphonse Mary – Batticaloa
Ameer M. Faaiz – Attorney-at-law
Aruni Jayakody – Attorney-at-law
B. Gowthaman – Attorney-at-law
Bhavani Fonseka – Attorney-at-law
C. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-law
Chandraguptha Thenuwara – Artist/Senior Lecturer
Dr. A. Selvendiran – Advisor, NGO Consortium, Batticaloa
Dr. J. T. Xavier F.R.C.S. (Retd.) – Batticaloa
Dr. Jehan Perera
Dr. Malathi de Alwis
Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Dr. Sepali Kottegoda
Gehan Gunatilleke – Attorney-at-law
Jayanta de S. Wijeratne
K.S. Ratnavale – Attorney-at-law
Kusal Perera – Journalist
Luwie Ganeshathasan – Attorney-at-law
Marisa de Silva
Minoli de Soysa
Nimalka Fernando – Attorney-at-law
Niran Anketell – Attorney-at-law
Prabodha Rathnayaka – Attorney-at-law
Prof. Camena Guneratne – Open University of Sri Lanka
Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya
Prof. M.S. Mookiah
R.M.B Senanayake – Retd. CCS
Rajaledsumi – Women’s Rights Activist
Rev. Fr. Anthony Fernando – Salesian of Don Bosco
Rev. Fr. Dixon Fernando SDB – Rector, Don Bosco – Dungalpitiya
Rev. Fr. Guy Fonghaland
Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
Rev. Fr. Jeyaraj Rasiah SJ
Rev. Fr. Joseph Mary SJ – Batticaloa
Rev. Fr. Nihal Liyanage
Rev. Fr. Rohan Dominic
Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran – Attorney-at-law
Rev. Sr. Deepa Fernando HF
Rev. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel SCJM
Rev. Sr. Victorine James – Holy Cross Provincialate, Kochchikade
Rohini Dep Weerasinghe
Sabra Zahid – Attorney-at-law
Shashika L. Bandara
Solomon Anthony Nirmalan – Claretian Congregation
Sudarshana Gunawardana – Attorney-at-law
T. Mathuri – Attorney-at-law
Alliance Development Trust
Association of War Affected Women
Center for Promotion & Protection of Human Rights (CPPHR)
Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
Ceylon Workers Red Flag Union
Citizens’ Voice for Justice and Peace
Domestic Workers Union (DWU)
Equal Ground Sri Lanka
Federation of Media Employee’s Trade Unions
Gandhi Sewa Society – Batticaloa
Inform Human Rights Documentation Centre
International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
Kantha Shakthi Forum
Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
Muslim Council of Sri Lanka
National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO)
National Peace Council (NPC)
Red Flag Women’s Movement
Right to Life Human Rights Centre (R2L)
Rights Now Collective for Democracy
Secretariat for Muslims (SFM)
Sisters of the Holy Cross
South Asian Centre for Legal Studies
Vikalpani National Women’s Network
Women’s Centre – Ja-Ela
Women’s Development Centre – Jaffna
Women’s Political Academy
Young Asia Television (YATV)