SRI LANKA: Threat to a young man’s life by the Ja-Ela police acting in collusion with a wealthy businessman

(Hong Kong, September 9, 2011) 

The Asian Human Rights Commission in a previous Open Letter to the Inspector General of Police and Urgent Appeal brought to the attention of the authorities a series of threats to Diyaththara Kalutara Kalusayakkarage Sajith Shehan Fernando of Ja-Ela. We are now issuing a YouTube presentation in which Shehan and his mother explain their ordeal. Please see this presentation at: 

Those who wish to intervene may also refer to the Urgent Appeal: SRI LANKA: A young man is subjected to attacks and abduction attempts 

The details of their story are given below: 

Twenty two-year-old Diyaththara Kalutara Kalusayakkarage Sajith Shehan Fernando of No. 22 St. Mary’s Road Ja-Ela has complained that his life is under severe threat due to a powerful businessman aided by some police officers pursuing him with white vans to abduct him and also by using criminal elements to severely assault him which, in his view is with the intention of killing him. 

On 25 May, 2011 Shehan went to a shop, Wasantha Motors, to buy spare parts for his motorcycle. A person at the shop told him that they were closed and therefore they would not sell the parts that he required. However, at the time the doors of the shop were still open and Shehan explained that since he was going to work the next day could they please consider selling him the spare parts he required. Then two persons in the shop shouted, “Do you not understand what we told you?” Without warning they started to assault him. A third person, the owner of the shop, alighted from a nearby car and asked what was happening. He also struck Shehan who then ran away. 

The next day he went to his job and his brother went to the shop to get the spare parts. His brother was detained in the shop and an uncle, Roshan, had to go to the shop and rescue him. On the same day a group of persons arrived in a white van at Shehan’s house and inquired as to his whereabouts from his mother. His mother in turn inquired as to why they were looking for Shehan and they replied that the director of Wasantha Motors was taking treatment at the Intensive Care Unit because Shehan pushed him, causing him to strike his head on some concrete. On the evening of the same day (26th), another group of people arrived at the house and threatened Shehan’s mother who then made a complaint to the Ja-Ela police the same night. 

On the 7 June, 2011 the Officer-in-Charge of the Ja-Ela Police Station made a telephone call to Shehan’s mother asking her to come to the police station at 9 am the following day to inquire into her complaint. When she arrived at that time she was detained at the station until 7 pm. During this detention two persons whom she believed to be criminals arrived at the police station. On the instructions of the OIC of the station the OIC of the Petty Offenses Section recorded that her complaint had been brought to a settlement and forced the mother to sign it. Thereafter, the two other persons were sent away but Shehan’s mother was kept at the station until Shehan would be presented. After detaining her that night a case was filed against her in the Magistrate’s Court of Kanuwana for harbouring a criminal, meaning her son, Shehan. 

Five days later Shehan’s Uncle Roshan who had earlier rescued his younger brother, was also charged at the same Magistrate’s Court for making death threats. The case is still pending before the court. Shehan believes that this charge was filed as an act of revenge against his uncle for intervening on his behalf. Thereafter, as the police were looking for Shehan he surrendered himself to court. Regarding this there is a case pending against him until now. 

On 9 August, 2011 when Shehan was going to work a group of people came in a van with tinted windows and tried to kidnap him but he managed to escape and run away. Shehan complained about this matter through the Emergency Hotline of the Police Department, 119, and this is recorded in the CID ii at page 390/127. In that complaint the vehicle number is given as WPGX 9511. The Ja-Ela police did not conduct any investigation into this complaint. A further complaint was made at the Peliyagoda Police Station on 11 August, 2011. Regarding this complaint also there has been no investigation. 

On 29 August at around 5:15 pm when he was walking to a bus to return home after work five persons who arrived in a LandCruiser that did not have a license plate attacked Shehan, striking him on his hands and legs with iron poles. As they were attacking him Shehan managed to run back into his workshop. From there he was taken in a vehicle belonging to the workshop to a nearby hospital and from there he was transferred to the Ragama Hospital. A complaint regarding this matter was made on the same day to the Seduwa Police Station and the incident was also reported to the OIC of the Ja-Ela Police Station. However, once again, no action was taken in this complaint also. 

Due to a coordinated action of the OIC of Ja-Ela Police Station and a millionaire businessman, Shehan complains that his life is under threat. The OIC, according to Shehan, is working hand in glove with this businessman. Shehan believes that the owner of the LandCruiser that delivered the five persons who attacked him belongs to the same businessman. Shehan further complains that the OIC is protecting the criminals and is making fabricated charges against him and his relatives instead. 

Shehan has informed the matter to human rights organisations and requested them to intervene in order to protect his life. Shehan further states that it he arrested by the Ja-Ela police he will certainly be torture at the instructions of the businessman. 

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-036-2011
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,