Confirmed victory

At the center of a larger crackdown on the freedom of assembly and expression at Jaffna University are three student activists who have been held by the Terrorist Investigation Division of Sri Lanka since December 1st. On December 7th a fourth student was also taken in. These students, arrested after their protest against the suppression of peaceful Heroes Day and Karthikai Deepam (Hindu religious festival)  remembrance activities, have yet to be charged with a recognizable criminal offense and there is concern for their well being while in custody. We petition to ensure their safety, their right to proper legal recourse, and the right of all Sri Lankans to express and assemble peacefully without fear of intimidation.

Letter to
Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States His Excellency Jaliya Wickramasuriya
Inspector General of Police Dear Inspector General of Police N K Illangakoon
I am writing to you because I am troubled by the continued detention of Jaffna University student activists P. Tharshananth, Sanmugam Solaman, and K. Jenemajeyamenan who were arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) on December 1st. While I welcome the December 4th release of Kanesamoorthy Sutharsan, I remain concerned for the safety and well-being of the three remaining students who are said to have now been transferred from Vavuniya to a "rehabilitation" center in Welikanda. I also express concern for V. Bhavananadan who is also believed to have surrendered himself to the TID as of December 7th. With greatest concern for the well-being of all four students during this period of detention I ask you to please act immediately to ensure that they are protected from ill-treatment and, in accordance with international standards, provide them with full access to their lawyers, families and medical care.

I also call on you to release these students from custody or charge them with a recognizable criminal offense and to try them promptly in a regularly constituted court with all internationally recognized safeguards.

As the arrest of these students follow their protests against the suppression of peaceful Heroes Day remembrance and Karthikai Deepam (Hindu religious festival) activities, I implore that you, an official entrusted with the protection of all Sri Lankans, help end restrictions and intimidation on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Sri Lanka. I also ask you to do your utmost to ensure that those who attack participants of religious gatherings and other commemorative activities are brought swiftly to justice.

I thank you for looking into this matter and doing your part to ensure Sri Lanka is a land of peace and justice for all her inhabitants.

*Update: On of January 22nd 2013, two of the students - Sanmugam Solaman and V. Bhavananadan - were released and are returning home. While I welcome their release I also note that two students remain held in Welikanda. I continue to ask that the GoSL ensure the safety and right to due process of these students.