2ND LEAD (Adds details)

Jaffna Rights official receives death threats

[TamilNet, Sunday, 28 May 2006, 09:39 GMT]
Rohitha Priyadharshana, co-ordinator at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Jaffna, received a letter Friday threatening his life if he does not vacate his post, officials in the HRC said. A man believed to be a paramilitary working with Sri Lanka Military Intelligence, gave the letter, written in Tamil, through an employee at the HRC office, according to officials. The letter included Priyadharshana has been leading the investigation in several landmark cases where Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers of Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) were blamed for killing civilians, civil society sources said.

The letter also included a live bullet used in a hand pistol, HRC sources said.

Mr. Priyadharshana is a human rights activist and speaks fluent Tamil, is from Vavuniya, and took up the post at the Jaffn HRC after two previous HRC co-ordinators received similar death threats. Canadian authorities have since given asylum to the two affected HRC officials.

Priyadharshana has been aggressive in the investigations on the displacement of civilians through the Pannai bridge, and murders in Allaipiddy in Jaffna islets where eight civilians including a 4-month old baby were killed allegedly by paramilitaries working with Sri Lanka Navy (SLN).

Mr Priyadharshana also had received phone calls that accused him of acting as an agent for assisting families in Jaffna and Islets to move to Vanni, an official close to the HRC said.

HRC officials in Jaffna said, Mr Priyadharshana had left Jaffna to a safer area temporarily.

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