Colombo Telegraph

Urgent Appeal: Human Rights Defender Wanatamulle Sunil Samaradeera’s Life Under Threat

Wanatamulla Sunil Samaradeera appeals for protection for himself and his family members and justice for the abuse of his fundamental rights.justice for the abuse of his fundamental rights, says the Asian Human Rights Commission.

We publish below the urgent appeal of AHRC;

SRI LANKA: The life of a human rights defender is under threat

ISSUES: Illegal arrest; arbitrary detention; disappearance;
abduction; impunity; rule of law

——————————————————————————————

Dear friends,

Sunil Samaradeera of No: 34/2, Baseline Mawatha, Borella, a human rights activist based in Wanathamulla, in Colombo District was abducted in broad daylight by persons believed to be connected to the Secretary of Defense. On 13 of February Sunil had met with the Secretary, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, regarding issues concerning a housing scheme which threatens to put several households out of their land and according to reports there had been a heated exchange of words. Sunil’s abduction happened shortly after that. Sunil’s neighbours and colleagues staged a protest by blocking a road and as a result two days later he was released. However, he is concerned for his personal security and the authorities have made no effort to investigate the abduction and bring the perpetrators to justice.

This case is yet another illustration of the fact that influential or well connected people can use the Sri Lankan police to their benefit
despite the fact that the victims are innocent persons.

 

CASE NARRATIVE:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the abduction of Sunil Samaradeera alias Wanathe Sunil of No: 34/2, Baseline Mawatha, Borella, a human rights activist based in Wanathamulla, in Colombo District. There is grave concern for his safety. Sunil was abducted on 15 of February 2014 close to the temple at Dematagoda by unknown men in a Pajero. His hands were tied; head covered, he was put into the vehicle by force and then his body was covered by a polythene sheet. After a journey of about one and half hours the vehicle stopped at a house. He was taken inside, put on a mat and chained.

After the news of his abduction spread his wife went to the Dematagoda Police Station and made a complaint. Then the residents of his housing scheme came to know of the incident and after some time, they came to the adjoining main road, Baseline Road, where they
started a protest by blocking the road and appealed for his release.They urged the authorities to act immediately to find him and provide him with protection.

Sunil has been the organiser of the ‘Organisation to Protect Houses
at Wanathamulla’, 34 Watte, and worked hard against the proposed
demolishing and taking over of their housing scheme by the Urban
Development Authority which is overseen by the Secretary of Defence.
He earns his living by selling the eatables like hoppers & string
hoppers in a small boutique and further he is having a family with
five children to maintain. On 13 of February he had met with the
Secretary, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse in this particular housing scheme
and according to reports there had been a heated exchange of words.

Due to the vehement protest by Sunil’s neighbours he was released
two days later. When he was released the adductors threatened him not
to tell anyone about what had happened to him. They placed him in a
vehicle and released on the road with his wrists still bound. He
shouted to attract the attention of a passing motor cyclist who
stopped and untied him. The motor cyclist took him some distance
towards his place of residence but was reluctant to take him all the
way to Wanathamulla. He somehow managed to reach the scene of the
protest and made his appearance known and it was only then that the
protest ended. His colleagues fear that he will be abducted again and
complain that his life is now in danger.

At the time of writing there has not been an inquiry by the police.
Instead the Police Spokesman stated that it is a drama organized by
some parties interested to create trouble in the area. Sunil along
with several other persons went to the Human Rights Commission of Sri
Lanka (HRC) on 5 March to complain that no suspect has been arrested
by police regarding the abduction on 15 February. Sunil was able to
return to his people only due to the protests carried out by the
people at Wanathamulla. However, it is believed that his life is under
threat as was stated in the complaint made to the Human Rights
Commission.

Sunil appeals for protection for himself and his family members and
justice for the abuse of his fundamental rights.

 

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting an immediate investigation into the allegations of abduction of a person by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for misusing the powers of the state. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department. Further, please also request the NPC and the IGP to have a special investigation into the malpractices of the police officers for abusing their powers.

Please note that the AHRC is also written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in this regard.

To support this appeal, please click here:
<http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-029-2014>

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: The life of a human rights defender is under threat

Name of the victim: Sunil Samaradeera alias Wanathe Sunil of No:
34/2, Baseline Mawatha, Borella

Alleged perpetrator: Police officers attach to the Borella Police
Station

Date of incident: 15 February 2014

Place of incident: Borella Police Division

I am writing to express my serious concern over the case of Mr. Sunil Samaradeera alias Wanathe Sunil of No: 34/2, Baseline Mawatha, Borella. Sunil is a human rights activist based in Wanathamulla, in Colombo District. Sunil was abducted on 15 of February 2014 close to the temple at Dematagoda by unknown men in a Pajero. His hands were tied; head covered, he was put into the vehicle by force and then his body was covered by a polythene sheet. After a journey of about one and half hours the vehicle stopped at a house. He was taken inside, put on a mat and chained.

After the news of his abduction spread his wife went to the Dematagoda Police Station and made a complaint. Then the residents of his housing scheme came to know of the incident and after some time, they came to the adjoining main road, Baseline Road, where they started a protest by blocking the road and appealed for his release.They urged the authorities to act immediately to find him and provide him with protection.

Sunil has been the organiser of the ‘Organisation to Protect Houses at Wanathamulla’, 34 Watte, and worked hard against the proposed demolishing and taking over of their housing scheme by the Urban Development Authority which is overseen by the Secretary of Defence. He earns his living by selling the eatables like hoppers & string hoppers in a small boutique and further he is having a family with five children to maintain. On 13 of February he had met with the Secretary, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse in this particular housing scheme and according to reports there had been a heated exchange of words.

Due to the vehement protest by Sunil’s neighbours he was released two days later. When he was released the adductors threatened him not to tell anyone about what had happened to him. They placed him in a vehicle and released on the road with his wrists still bound. He shouted to attract the attention of a passing motor cyclist who stopped and untied him. The motor cyclist took him some distance towards his place of residence but was reluctant to take him all the way to Wanathamulla. He somehow managed to reach the scene of the protest and made his appearance known and it was only then that the protest ended. His colleagues fear that he will be abducted again and complain that his life is now in danger.

At the time of writing there has not been an inquiry by the police. Instead the Police Spokesman stated that it is a drama organised by some parties interested to create trouble in the area. Sunil along with several other persons went to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRC) on 5 March to complain that no suspect has been arrested by police regarding the abduction on 15 February. Sunil was able to return to his people only due to the protests carried out by the people at Wanathamulla. However, it is believed that his life is under threat as was stated in the complaint made to the Human Rights Commission.

I therefore request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of abduction and the lack of any investigation into this case. I urge you to ensure the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country for illegal abduction, misusing powers of state officers and for wrongful detention. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by
the department. I also urge that protection be provided to the victim and his family

forthwith.

Yours sincerely,

———————————————–

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. N K Illangakoon

Inspector General of Police

New Secretariat

Colombo 1

SRI LANKA

Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877

E-mail: igp@police.lk

2. Mr. Sarath Palith Fernando

Attorney General

Attorney General’s Department

Colombo 12

SRI LANKA

Fax: +94 11 2 436421

E-mail: ag@attorneygeneral.gov.lk

3. Secretary

National Police Commission

3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers

109 Galle Road

Colombo 03

SRI LANKA

Tel: +94 11 2 395310

Fax: +94 11 2 395867

E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk or polcom@sltnet.lk

4. Secretary

Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission

No: 165 Kynsey Road,

Borella, Colombo 8.

SRI LANKA

Fax: +94 11 2694924

Email: sechrc@sltnet.lk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme

Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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