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.
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.