UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Ongoing killing and disappearance in Jaffna


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-127-2007
ISSUES: Enforced disappearances and abductions, Extrajudicial killings, Judicial system, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

Further to our previous appeal, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed by a reliable source regarding the killing of six more persons, including a Hindu priest, disappearance of sixteen persons, and threats on persons – women, the elderly and children in Jaffna, Northern Sri Lanka. These incidents occurred from September 1 to 24. Those facing threats have been forced to seek refuge at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) office in Jaffna for protection.


The situation in the Jaffna Peninsula in recent times has deteriorated even further, making it extremely difficult for ordinary villagers to carry on their daily activities; for instance, fishermen have been forced to stop work due to security reasons. The stoppage was prompted by restrictions of the distance where they are allowed to catch fish. In the waters where fishing is allowed, however, the catch is very poor either because it is too shallow or its aquatic resources have already been exhausted due to over fishing.

They also face risks of assault by the security forces when boats arrive at the jetty a little later than the allowable fishing time. Once caught, they are either denied entry to fishing grounds or prohibited to catch fish for days.  These fishermen have not received any assistance or relief despite the plight they are facing. This has resulted in fishermen’s families suffering from poverty and starvation.

In another development, lawyers of Jaffna have protested the continuing risks and insecurity they are facing in carrying out their court duties and the authorities failure to protect them. On September 18 and 19, lawyers boycotted courts. They only resumed working when assured of their security and protection. Prior to this, lawyers and businessmen have reportedly been receiving telephone calls from unknown persons demanding huge amount of money from them. They were threatened with dire consequences if they refused.

In three areas in Jaffna: Valigamam Island, Vadamaradchy and Thenmaradchy, the military has also imposed stiffer curfew hours which run from 7:00pm. to 4:30am. the following day.

There are also frequent reports of the military rounding up people of an entire area and then parading a person whose face and head are covered but with their eyes visible. These persons are forced to point out and implicate villagers who are then taken away, often never to be seen or heard of again. The desperate families of these disappeared persons are almost never informed where the person is been taken to nor which security force’s unit took them.

This practice was quite common in the late 80s. During that period there were several reports that suspects who were taken in were then forced under severe torture to parade round the towns and villages with security forces personnel and identify suspects. But most of the time, the victims falsely implicated innocent civilians simply to avoid being tortured again.

It is also reported that the military has began issuing identity cards to residents of Jaffna. Several strange questions are asked in the form to be filled up when applying for this ID card – for instance, disclosure of membership in a political party. People question as to why they need a military ID card when they already possess their national identity cards issued by the government.


1. Jeyaratnarajah Rajeen, a resident of beach road Gurunaar, was fishing together with a companion when he was shot dead. The victim usually collects sea leeches while fishing. His dead body was taken to a hospital by his companion.

2. Tharmalingam Kokulaventahn, 38 years old, a resident of Sivapragasam Road, Vannarponnai. On September 20, at around 9:00pm. he was shot dead by unknown person soon after opening his foot wear mart.

3. Aseervatham Gnanarasa, 42 years old, a resident of Ward 10, Delft was shot dead near Muneeswaran Street on September 21. The victim had just arrived in Jaffna five days before he was killed.

4. Kulendramohan Suthakaran, 27 years old, a resident of Iyanar Veethy, Point Pedro, was shot dead by gunmen riding on a motor cycle. He was opening his restaurant near the Sivankovil when he was shot.

5. Balasubramainam Ledchumana Iyar, 31 years old, was shot dead while he was in his house by a gunman who was calling on him to get out. He was a Hindu priest.

6. Arulananthan Thayananthan, 21 years old, a resident of Thambacitty, Point Pedro, was shot dead on September 17.


1. Sebamalai Dennis, 29 years old, a resident of Rajasingam Road, Thirunagar has been reported missing since September 18. He was a father of three children.
2. Fifteen persons were also reported missing in separate incidents from September 1 to 5 and whose whereabouts remains unknown.


From September 17 to 21, at least 20 persons have gone to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) office in Jaffna seeking protection. The victims include an elderly woman, two mothers and their four children and 13 men. They were forced to seek the HRC’s assistance for fear of their lives due to the continuing threats they keep facing.

We urge you to write letters to the Sri Lanka government expressing your concern and demanding concrete action in these cases.

You can also use the sample letters we issued in our previous appeals in writing to the concerned authorities: UA-113-2007 UP-117-2007; UP-123-2007.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)