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NGO Workers in Eastern Sri Lanka Received Blatant Life Threats

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Swift and effective intervention is necessary after Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal Party (TMVP) made threatening statements against foreign NGO and aid workers. The government needs to recall its obligation to take effective measures for the protection of workers as declared in the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.
Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe
Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights
Address No. 02, Wijerama Mw.
Colombo 07, Sri Lanka

Dear Hon. Mahinda Samarasinghe,

FORUM-ASIA appeals for your urgent intervention to ensure the security of nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) working in the Trinocomalee district in Sri Lanka. A group claiming to be the Intelligence Unit of the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal Party (TMVP) sent a threatening email to several international NGOs and UN agencies working in and around Trincomalee, in eastern Sri Lanka.

On 17 April 2007, a variety of organisations received communication from the TMVP demanding registration of all workers and explicitly said that all unregistered expatriate NGO workers will not have their security guaranteed. The statement of the TMVP also suggested that humanitarian aid workers in the area are in collusion with the LTTE. FORUM-ASIA considers these remarks a direct threat.

Sri Lankan human rights defenders have observed cadres of the TMVP flaunt arms in towns and villages in eastern Sri Lanka. As reported by Mr. Alan Rock, the Special Advisor of the UN’s Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict and Human Rights Watch, the Karuna group, with which the TMVP is affiliated, is responsible for recruiting and abducting children for armed conflict and its cadres work in front of the Sri Lankan security forces.

Immediate intervention on your behalf is especially crucial given previous attacks on NGO workers and a general climate that is seeing the appalling rise in targeting of humanitarian workers, peace activists, journalists and human rights defenders. Trincomalee district has seen several incidents against NGO staff since 2006, including the 17 ACF workers massacred in nearby Muttur, grenades thrown at NGO offices and staff and vehicles attacked.

The government has made no sustained effort to protect these workers. There has been no clear attempt to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators in such crimes. This climate of impunity is contributing to the increase in such threats and attacks.

The government of Sri Lanka adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in December 1998. It therefore has the obligation to take swift and effective measures to protect these workers who are under direct threat from the TMVP and all others that are working to promote and protect human rights in the country.


Anselmo Lee
Executive Director

For more information, please contact:

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director
Phone:+ 66 2391 8801
Email: [email protected]

Nicole Girard
Sri Lanka Programme
Phone: + 66 2391 8801
Email: [email protected]