TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH
CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME
(Established in 1990)
Commemoration of Kumar Ponnambalam’s
On 5 January 2000, Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, eminent and highly respected Human rights defender, was shot dead in broad daylight in his car in Colombo. His death is a great loss to civil society and all who cherish the values of human dignity and human rights.
Mr. G. G. Kumar Ponnambalam’s spirit for freedom and justice can never be extinguished. He synthesized thought and action in a critical way at a critical time in the history of the island of Sri Lanka. Fearlessly he spoke out for human rights on behalf of all people regardless of creed, ethnic background or gender, in international human rights forums. On a local level his experience as a barrister combined with his courage, gave human rights protection few could or dared to offer, to victims who had been intimidated, tortured and persecuted by the Sri Lankan armed forces.
Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam defended not only Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (ER) but also Sinhalese detained under the same Act and Regulations.
Mr. Ponnambalam’s very defence of human rights, locally and internationally made him a target for those systematically and violently opposed to human rights.
Last year at the commemoration of Mr Ponnambalam’s third death anniversary in Paris TCHR appealed to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; - to call for an immediate independent/impartial inquiry into the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam, to call for an explanation from the Police officers who had failed to investigate this case effectively, to investigate all those whose names had appeared in newspaper articles in connection with the murder, and to allow a Parliamentary debate which would pave the way for clarification of doubts raised by democratically elected fellow colleagues in Parliament.
The previous government in power was believed to have been heavily involved in Kumar Ponnambalam’s murder.
According to Colombo media reports during 2003, the two main suspects involved in the assassination of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam have been killed. Moratuwa Saman was killed on 18 May by an “unknown killer” before “spilling the beans”, the Sunday Leader reported on 1 June 2003.
On 20 August Sugath Ranasinghe, the sole remaining suspect in the murder trial of Kumar Ponnambalam was killed ("Daily Mirror", 23 August 2003). Moratuwa Saman and Sugath Ranasinghe were believed to have been killed by contract killers! Who contracted the latter to kill these two murderers? Why were they killed? Are the Sri Lankan Police and judicial system investigating this serious matter?
The "Daily Mirror" article quoted the then Minister of Interior John Amaratunga, “ the killing of these main suspects in those cases prove that some hidden hand was trying to mislead the police by destroying all evidence of the earlier VIP killings.” Interior Minister John Amaratunga claimed that the killings of chief suspects in the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam had placed obstructions to conduct the cases filed against them.
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So what about those who master-minded the brutal killing of a brave human rights defender? And how did the two suspects manage to move freely for nearly three years without being brought to justice? Who was protecting and sheltering them?
Last year, speakers at the event in Paris strongly condemned the Sri Lankan police and the Attorney General’s Department for not holding a proper independent investigation regarding the brutal assassination of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam; an assassination surrounded by much evidence. The speakers also mentioned how the Sri Lankan legal system in the island is partial.
It was a tragic loss to the international human rights community the day Mr Kumar Ponnambalam’s life was brutally taken away. But his thirst for justice and truth remains an inspiration and can never be forgotten. All those who ever met him will continue to mourn his loss, knowing that he still had so much to give to dedicate to the good of humanity. Our thoughts as always are with his family and friends who continue to face the challenge of adjusting to their loss.
TCHR once more calls for:
· An immediate independent and impartial inquiry into the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam.
· An explanation from the Police officers who have failed to investigate this case effectively.
TCHR also calls for:
· An independent inquiry into how and why the police department allowed the two suspects who were killed to be moving freely for three years after killing Mr Ponnambalam.
During TCHR’s recent visit to Sri Lanka some prominent Tamils told us that the International Community must take note of what Tamil people are experiencing in Sri Lanka; “The government may change, Ministers may change, but the attitude towards the Tamils in the island always remains the same – this is the reality in this island for more than fifty years.”
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH
9, rue des Peupliers - 95140 Garge les Gonesse - FRANCE
Contact person : S. V. Kirubaharan – General Secretary
Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR/CTDH
PO Box 182, Manchester M16 8ED, UNITED KINGDOM
Contact person : Deirdre McConnell – Director International Programme
Tamil Centrum voor Mensenrechten- TCHR
1703 TE Heerhugowaard, THE NETHERLANDS
Contact person : Sinniah Indiran
Fax : + 31
- 72 - 57 15 801
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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