CaFFE, CHR condemn intimidation at LLRC session in Kayts Island
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 16 November 2010, 10:35 GMT]
The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE), and Centre for Human
Rights - Sri Lanka (CHR) in a statement issued Monday condemned the
alleged systematic intimidation of those who wanted to make
submissions at the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation (LLRC) sessions
at Kayts Island in Jaffna district on Sunday.
The full statement is given below: -
Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) and Centre for Human
Rights - Sri Lanka (CHR) strongly condemns the systematic intimidation
of those who wanted to make submissions at the Lessons Learnt and
Reconciliation (LLRC) sessions at Kayts Island and the harassment and
intimidation of P. Winslow of Yaal Thinakural by an unidentified group
during the session at St. Anne’s Church, Kayts, yesterday (November,
Kayts Island is famous for numerous abductions, disappearances and
assassinations as well as its geographic isolation. In the last two
decades an armed group has dominated the political landscape of the
island who continues to intimidate its population. The scale of
disappearances, abductions and assassinations in an island which was
not directly impacted by Eelam War IV was obvious by the large number
of individuals who came to make submissions on Sunday despite a
systematic campaign to deter them. Residents of the island had been
warned not to give submissions and officials were asked not to inform
the dates and venues of the LLRC sessions during the days leading to
the sessions on November, 14.
Although the situation in the Jaffna Peninsula has somewhat improved
after the end of the war, the residents of Kayts and other islands
still live under pressure by various parties.
Therefore the decision taken by the LLRC to visit Kayts and listen to
the grievances of the residents is a very commendable and necessary
act. Nevertheless reliable reports from the session indicate that the
people were not able to express themselves freely without fear of
persecution. We have been informed that three men wrote down the names
of those who gave evidence at the St. Anne’s Church and took photos of
local media personnel using camera phones.
When the Yaal Thinakural photojournalist took a photo of these
individuals a man who appeared to be the leader of the intimidators
threatened the journalist with death. It was only after the mediation
of journalists from Colombo, representatives of the several embassies
and the LLRC commissioners that the Police took action. Nevertheless
he was released immediately after a warning by the police.
During the next session in Mankumban Pillayar Kovil, Velani, Kayts
around 20 newly appointed Grama Sevaka Niladaris, who many residents
claim were members of a group well known in Kayts, were present at the
session. Due to their presence many residents were afraid to speak
freely. Furthermore it’s a well known fact in Jaffna that local
journalists do not visit the islands off Jaffna due to the presence of
a hostile group.
The LLRC took submissions from residents of Jaffna during four days,
November 11-14, and over 2000 made submissions. Only around 400 made
submissions in Kayts, a comparatively low figure, and the LLRC took
oral submissions from approximately 30 individuals while others made
written submissions to the LLRC Secretariat.