UPDATE: The two comrades of the Frontline
Socialist Party, Premakumar Gunarathnam and Dimuthu Attygale, have both
been released, on late April 9/early April 10. Gunarathnam has been deported to Australia
(he is an Australian citizen). Without doubt it was the high level of international
the unprecedented solidarity across the political divide in Sri Lanka
that secured their lives and liberty.
April 5, 2012 -- Democratic
freedoms are increasingly under attack in Sri Lanka. In a climate of
intense chauvinism, critics of the government and its increasingly
authoritarian and repressive policies are more and more threatened. Even
journalists who have already been forced into exile are targets of
threats and smear campaigns. Government members have personally called
for violence against media personnel that have raised criticism of the
Sri Lankan government or that have drawn attention to violations of
Human Rights in the country.
Mervyn Silva, in a public rally, threatened to "break the limbs" of
government critics Sunanda Deshapriya, Nimalka Fernando and Pakiasothy
Saravanamuttu. He also claimed responsibility for an attack on the
former president of the Sri Lanka Working Journalist Association
(SLWJA), exiled journalist Poddala Jayantha, who was abducted and had
both legs broken by his abductors. On a later occasion, Silva suggested
that "traitors should be executed".
are seeing a campaign that seeks to silence critical voices, especially
in the aftermath of the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution
on Sri Lanka that urged the government to prosecute those responsible
for war crimes during the civil war between its armed forces and the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The government and its
supporters reacted to this call with extreme hostility and new outbursts
of anti-Tamil chauvinism. Large scale Human Rights violations during
the war and its aftermath, violations that cost the lives of countless
Tamils, have gone unpunished, creating a climate of impunity.
of the targets of the smear campaign is our comrade Gnanasiri
Koththigoda, current president of the SLWJA and a leading member of the
Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP). Another comrade of ours, Dharmasiri
Lankapeli of the Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions, has also
come under attack.
government of Sri Lanka is aided in this campaign by its state media.
The government controlled television Independent Television Network ITN
has repeatedly called Koththigoda a "traitor". It has labeled
journalists and civil society representatives as terrorists for
participating in the Human Rights Council session in Geneva. Similarly,
the state-owned Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited, better known
as "Lake House", has accused Lankapeli and other government critics of
support for terrorism and collaboration with the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
potential of attacks like these, in a context were government members
openly boast about assaulting critics and Human Rights violations go
unpunished, should not be underestimated. Harassing, harming or even
killing of journalists has gone unpunished in Sri Lanka, with police
often refusing to look into the matter. Our comrades have been singled
out for these attacks because of their principled stance for democratic
rights and freedoms. An attack on them is an attack on these rights and
involvement of state-led media in the attacks on journalists and
democratic activists, the long history of violence and intimidation of
journalist and government critics as well as the role of prominent
members of the government show clearly that this a coordinated,
state-led campaign. The government of Sri Lanka is aiming to curtail
democracy. It is up to democrats and progressives in Sri Lanka, South
Asia and worldwide to stand up for democratic rights. We are happy to
see that progressive forces like Peoples' SAARC have already come to the
defense of the fundamental principles of democracy in Sri Lanka.
declare our solidarity with Koththigoda, Lankapeli and all other media
personnel and democratic activists under attack. We support them in
their struggle for a just and democratic Sri Lanka.
Communist Party of Bangladesh (M-L) (CPB-ML)
Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL)
National Council of Internationalist Workers (NCIW), Japan
People’s Liberation Party Indonesia
Socialist Alliance, Australia
Socialist Alternative, Australia
John Percy, national secretary, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Australia
Revolutionary Workers Party Mindanao, Philippines
Partido Ng Manggagawa, Philippines
Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippines
Socialist Aotearoa, New Zealand
Please contact email@example.com if you would like to endorse this statement.
For the latest signatories, please click HERE.
Urgent appeal for abducted socialists
By Nava Sama Samaaja Party (NSSP, New Socialist Party, Sri Lanka)
April 7, 2012 -- Two leaders of the Frontline Socialist Party Kumar Gunarathnam and Dimuthu Attygalle (women's and international affairs secretary) were separately abducted in the early
hours of Saturday April 7, 2012, from Kiribathgoda and Godagama
respectively (suburbs of Colombo).
They are prominent representatives of a new left party that has broken
away from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in opposition to coalition
politics and in solidarity with the Tamil people's struggle for justice
Kumar Gunarathnam, who is of Tamil origin, was a longstanding leader
of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, who has been in hiding from the
authorities since the split with the JVP. Dimuthu Attygalle is also a
former member of the JVP politburo and leader of its women’s front and
former elected member of an urban council.
The timing of their abduction is directly related to the forthcoming
inaugural conference of the Frontline Socialist Party on April 9, 2012.
It is a clear attempt to intimidate and discourage the members and
sympathisers of this new socialist party. This heinous act follows the
disappearance of two Tamil-origin activists of the party, Lalith and
Kugan, in Jaffna in December 2011 whose whereabouts and safety is still
The Nava Sama Samaja Party demands the immediate release of the
comrades of the Frontline Socialist Party; and for all acts of
intimidation and harassment of their political activities to end
forthwith. We call upon Left parties across the world to organise
solidarity actions in front of Sri Lankan embassies and missions and to
send messages of protest to the Sri Lankan authorities.
Write to: Hon President of Sri Lanka Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha
Defence Secretary Mr.Gotabhaya Rajapakse firstname.lastname@example.org