NESOHR mourns killing of Pararajasingham

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 December 2005, 14:59 GMT]
Praising Joseph Pararajasingham as a human rights activist ready to take up human rights violations against his community in Batticoloa disregarding risks to his life, the Northeast Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR) in a press release issued Sunday said, " A land where human rights defenders’ life can be taken away so cheaply is a damned land. It is also a damning indictment on those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting them."

Full text of the press release follows:

Mr Joseph Pararajasingam, our valued member, was shot dead on the Christmas Eve of 2005. He was murdered for the sole reason that he highlighted the human rights situation of the Tamil people.

He was shot inside the Cathedral in Batticaloa town that was crowded with people attending the Christmas mass presided by Bishop of Batticaloa, Kingley Swampillai. Mr Pararajasingam’s wife, Mrs P Sugunam, who was beside him, was critically wounded when she tried to protect him from the bullets.

Mr Joseph Pararajasingam is the second valued NESOHR member shot dead within the span of one year. The loss to NESOHR is truly shattering. NESOHR member for Amparai, Mr A ChadraNehru was shot dead in February this year.

In his parliamentarian life, Mr Pararajasingam, documented human rights violations in eastern Sri Lanka during the 1990’s and brought it to the attention of the international community. He persistently challenged the Sri Lankan government on its human rights record. The Sri Lankan parliament records, the “Hansard”, will contain ample evidence of his brave challenges to the Sri Lankan state on its human rights record. He traveled the world as a member of parliament, representing the Tamils, to meet foreign ministers and foreign affairs officials and brought the human rights situation in Northeast to their attention.

In his last visit to NESOHR in Kilinochchi to mark the International Human Rights day on December 10th 2005, he told us that he has decided to station himself in Batticaloa from now on and take up the human rights issues in his district. He told us that he was ready to take any risks that this would entail.

NESOHR in its one and a half years of operations has served the people of Northeast by addressing their human rights violations and also by bringing human rights violations to the attention of the international community. We have received encouraging support from the international community for our work and we were urged by the international community to also open an office in Batticaloa-Amparai. It is a huge loss to NESOHR and to the people of Batticaloa-Amparai to have our two members from the region shot dead within a span of one year.

A land where human rights defenders’ life can be taken away so cheaply is a damned land. It is also a damning indictment on those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting them. We urge the international human rights community to focus their attention on this damning situation in Northeast by taking stock of the true basic causes for this situation.

Rev Fr M X Karunaratnam
NESOHR Chairperson

 

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