SRI LANKA: The body of the disappeared human rights activist Pattini Razeek exhumed 

AHRC-STM-099-2011-01.jpgMr. Pattini Razeek, a well known human rights activist and a member of the executive committee of Forum Asia disappeared on February 11, 2010, yesterday (July 28) his body was exhumed before the Valachchenai Magistrate. The body had been buried within a half built private house in a remote village in Uddamaveli, Valachchanair and the location was identified due to a lead given by a suspect. The body has been sent to the government analyst department for scientific identification on the orders of the Magistrate. For the last one and a half years there had been a continuous demand from the members of his family, from the people in his residential area as well as from human rights organisations in Sri Lanka and abroad for an investigation into his disappearance. Razeek was the head of the Community Trust Fund (CTF), a Sri Lankan NGO based in the town of Puttalam.

The discovery of the body should be the beginning of the process of uncovering the circumstances leading to the death of this human rights activist and community leader. It is the duty of the government to ensure a thorough enquiry into all the circumstances surrounding the mystery of this disappearance and to place before the courts the entire evidence relating to the conspiracy for this murder. Obviously this murder and the disappearance is a part of a well thought out criminal conspiracy.

Pictures courtesy of Daily Mirror

The circumstances of this disappearance and murder suggest the involvement of powerful forces for the causing of this crime as well as for the attempt to hide the body. The reports published earlier suggest political motives for this murder. The events relating to the disposal of the Community Trust Fund also suggests that there were interested parties to make claims for this trust fund after his disappearance. All these factors need to be thoroughly investigated and brought to the notice of the court and the public.

The public in Sri Lanka has a great interest in the outcome of these investigations. For a long time the causing of forced disappearances has become a common phenomenon in the country. So far there has not been a single case of a disappearance which has led to the discovery of the culprits. The perpetrators of disappearances have enjoyed immunity in almost all instances of such occurrences.

This first discovery of the body of a person who was considered to have been disappeared should lead to a great demand from the community for accountability. As the inquiries are of the greatest public importance such inquiries should be conducted with transparency. It is necessary, not only to uncover the direct perpetrators of this crime but what is even more important is to uncover the conspiracy behind this disappearance and murder.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government of Sri Lanka to conduct speedy and credible inquiries through competent and impartial investigators and to speedily bring the matter before the court for trial. The AHRC also urges complete transparency into the inquiries so that the public should have access to all the information relating to this heinous crime. The AHRC also urges the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure proper monitoring of this important case with the view that the circumstances surrounding such occurrence could be fully revealed.

Thousands of other cases of forced disappearances remain unresolved. The families of such disappeared persons should be given opportunities to make their complaints to competent authorities and to demand inquiries into such disappearances. The failure to ensure enquiries into such heinous crimes amounts to a conspiracy to ensure secrecy relating to such crimes. As the numbers of the persons making such complaints are many there should be a more robust response from the government to ensure credible enquiries.

At the time of the recovery of Razeek’s body the case of Prageeth Eknaligoda will naturally come to the minds of the Sri Lankan public. The demand for enquiries into his forced disappearance has been made forcefully by his family as well as many concerned groups in Sri Lanka as well as by the international community. It is the duty of the Sri Lankan governemtn to responde to such demands and to ensure a credible inquiry by competent and impartial investigators into his disappearance.

Please see the earlier communications by the AHRC:

FORWARDED APPEAL (Sri Lanka): Disappearance of Mr. Pattani Razeek, Executive Committee Member of FORUM-ASIA

SRI LANKA: Disappearance of FORUM-ASIA Executive Committee Member PattaniRazeek – prime suspect has not been arrested

SRI LANKA: 500 Days since the disappearance of Mr. Pattani Razeek! Still no police investigation

more photos of Razeek's exhumation
Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-099-2011
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,