Open Letter to all Political Parties – Key Pledges to be included in Manifestos

13th July, 2015

We the undersigned Sri Lankan civil society activists and organizations, wish to bring to your attention human rights issues of pivotal importance to reconciliation, unity, peace and prosperity in our country, which we strongly believe should be included in your party manifestos for the forthcoming General Election.

During the campaign period leading to the January 2015 Presidential Election, the focus was governance and anti- corruption as the immediate need of the day to salvage democracy and restore the rule of law in Sri Lanka. There appeared to be a consensus that once this was done and an enabling environment thereby created, the longer term issues of peace and reconciliation, the process of transitional justice, an end to the culture of impunity in respect of all human rights violations and a political settlement of the ethnic conflict, would be addressed in earnest.

We are of the firm belief that the Parliament to be elected on the 17 of August will have to address these issues as a matter of the utmost priority if we as Sri Lankans are to realize the full potential for peace and prosperity in a truly united country that is inherent in all our fellow citizens. We have languished for too long in a post- war situation, in which the roots of conflict are sustained and even allowed to be reproduced. We need to move to a post-conflict situation characterized by the absence of human rights violations and in order to do so, we strongly urge that the following, in particular, be included as firm pledges in your manifestos.

1. Commit to a political and constitutional settlement of the ethnic conflict based on meaningful power-sharing.

2. Ensure families have access to the truth, and hold accountable all those responsible for enforced and involuntary disappearances, and that the crime of disappearances be criminalized under Sri Lankan Law.

3. Repeal or reform the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), bringing it in line with Sri Lanka’s international obligations, and that all long-term detainees be charged or released with immediate effect.

4. Zero tolerance on the issues of enforced and involuntary disappearance, torture, religious and gender based violence and attacks, suppression of dissent and threats on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs).

5. Bring an end to the prevailing culture of impunity, and strengthen the judiciary to uphold the law and hold accountable all those responsible for human rights violations.

6. Put in place processes and mechanisms of transitional justice in conformity with international standards, and continued, constructive engagement with victims, affected communities, local civil society groups and the international community.

7. Ensure an enabling environment for civil society activism.

8. Implement pro-people, participatory and sustainable economic, development and environmental policies, approaches and practices.

Let us NOT miss this historic opportunity for true reform and reconciliation!

Sincerely,

Individuals

1. Alphonse Mary – Batticaloa
2. Ameer M. Faaiz – Attorney-at-law
3. Anandi Sivasubramanium
4. Anberiya Hanifa
5. Anushaya Collure
6. Aruni Jayakody – Attorney-at-law
7. B. Gowthaman – Attorney-at-law
8. Balasingham Skanthakumar
9. Bhavani Fonseka – Attorney-at-law
10. Brito Fernando
11. C. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-law
12. Cayathri D
13. Chandra Jayaratne
14. Chandraguptha Thenuwara – Artist/Senior Lecturer
15. Deanne Uyangoda
16. Dr. A. Selvendiran – Advisor, NGO Consortium, Batticaloa
17. Dr. J. T. Xavier F.R.C.S. (Retd.) – Batticaloa
18. Dr. Jehan Perera
19. Dr. Malathi de Alwis
20. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
21. Dr. Sepali Kottegoda
22. Faizun Zackariya
23. Farzana Haniffa
24. Gajen Mahendra
25. Gehan Gunatilleke – Attorney-at-law
26. Godfrey Yogarajah
27. Herman Kumara
28. Hilmy Ahamed
29. Jacqueline
30. Jansila Majeed
31. Jayanta de S. Wijeratne
32. Jeanne Samuel
33. Joe William
34. K. Aingkaran
35. K.S. Ratnavale – Attorney-at-law
36. Kalani Subasinghe
37. Kumudini Samuel
38. Kusal Perera – Journalist
39. Luwie Ganeshathasan – Attorney-at-law
40. M.A.L. Perera
41. M.S. Nilashani
42. Mala Liyanage
43. Mangaleswary Shanker
44. Manori Kalugampitiya
45. Mario Gomez
46. Marisa de Silva
47. Menaha Kandasamy
48. Minoli de Soysa
49. Mirak Raheem
50. Mohammed Mahuruf
51. Nalini Ratnarajah
52. Nilshan Fonseka
53. Nimalka Fernando – Attorney-at-law
54. Niran Anketell – Attorney-at-law
55. Padmini Weerasooriya
56. Prabodha Rathnayaka – Attorney-at-law
57. Priya Thangarajah
58. Priyanthi Fernando
59. Prof. Camena Guneratne – Open University of Sri Lanka
60. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya
61. Prof. M.S. Mookiah
62. R.M.B Senanayake – Retd. CCS
63. Rajaledsumi – Women’s Rights Activist
64. Rev. Fr. Anthony Fernando – Salesian of Don Bosco
65. Rev. Fr. Dixon Fernando SDB – Rector, Don Bosco – Dungalpitiya
66. Rev. Fr. Guy Fonghaland
67. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
68. Rev. Fr. Jeyaraj Rasiah SJ
69. Rev. Fr. Joseph Mary SJ – Batticaloa
70. Rev. Fr. Nihal Liyanage
71. Rev. Fr. Rohan Dominic
72. Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran – Attorney-at-law
73. Rev. Sr. Deepa Fernando HF
74. Rev. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel SCJM
75. Rev. Sr. Victorine James – Holy Cross Provincialate, Kochchikade
76. Rohini Dep Weerasinghe
77. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera
78. Ruki Fernando
79. Sabra Zahid – Attorney-at-law
80. Sandhya Eknaligoda
81. Saroja Sivachandran
82. Sathiya Sarasakopal
83. Shashika L. Bandara
84. Sheila Richards
85. Shreen Saroor
86. Shyamala Gomez
87. Solomon Anthony Nirmalan – Claretian Congregation
88. Sudarshana Gunawardana – Attorney-at-law
89. Sunanda Deshapriya
90. Sunela Jayewardene
91. Suriya Wickremasinghe
92. T. Mathuri – Attorney-at-law
93. Udaya Kalupathirana
94. Visaka Dharmadasa

Organizations

95. Alliance Development Trust
96. Association of War Affected Women
97. Center for Promotion & Protection of Human Rights (CPPHR)
98. Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD)
99. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
100. Ceylon Workers Red Flag Union
101. Citizens’ Voice for Justice and Peace
102. Domestic Workers Union (DWU)
103. Equal Ground Sri Lanka
104. Federation of Media Employee’s Trade Unions
105. Gandhi Sewa Society – Batticaloa
106. Inform Human Rights Documentation Centre
107. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
108. Kantha Shakthi Forum
109. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
110. Muslim Council of Sri Lanka
111. National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO)
112. National Peace Council (NPC)
113. Red Flag Women’s Movement
114. Right to Life Human Rights Centre (R2L)
115. Rights Now Collective for Democracy
116. Secretariat for Muslims (SFM)
117. Sisters of the Holy Cross
118. South Asian Centre for Legal Studies
119. Vikalpani National Women’s Network
120. Women’s Centre – Ja-Ela
121. Women’s Development Centre – Jaffna
122. Women’s Political Academy
123. Young Asia Television (YATV)