UPDATE (Sri Lanka): Update on a boy brutally assaulted by his teachers 


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-42-2004
ISSUES: Child rights, Right to education,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the torture of a 16-year-old student, Sahan Tharaka, by his teachers and the Assistant Principal of his school. (Reference: UA-90-2004)

Meanwhile, the teachers and Assistant Principal have been arrested, but released on bail. On 27 July 2004, the Principal of the school organised a street demonstration demanding the Right to Torture and also demanding the arrest of Tharaka on charges of robbery.

AHRC urges immediate legal and disciplinary action be taken against the Principal of Bulathsinhala M.M.V. for aiding and abetting torture and for instigating the public demonstration. AHRC also urges Tharaka to be produced before the Judicial Medical Officer and to have the medical report submitted to court to take action against the alleged perpetrators and to make it possible for Tharaka to return to school.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission


Name of victim: Balawedage Sahan Tharaka, a 16-year-old student at the Bulathsinhala Madya Maha Vidyalaya, in year 11
Alleged perpetrators:
1) Mr. Jayasiri, Assistant Principal of Bulathsinhala M.M.V [Central College], Bulathsinhala (updated)
2) Ms. Manjula Watawala, a sports instructor, Bulathsinhala M.M.V
3) Mr. Dayananda, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V (updated)
4) Mrs. Siriyawathi, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V (updated)
5) Mr. Wijeyapala, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V (updated)
Dates of incident: 19 July 2004 and 20 July 2004
Place of incident: Bulathsinhala M.M.V [Central College]


On 19 July 2004, when Sahan Tharaka was returning home as usual, two teachers who were on a motorcycle came near him and asked him to stop. Mr. Dayananda rode the motorcycle and Mrs. Siriyawathi was on the pillion. Both of them were very angry and they asked for his school bag, using obscene words. He obliged and handed over his bag to them. Then they ordered Tharaka to come to the school office. He obeyed and went to the office.

At the office, Mr. Wijeyapala assaulted Tharaka brutally and scolded him for stealing a side mirror from a motor cycle belonging to another teacher which costs about Rs.150 (about US$ 1.5). When Tharaka denied the allegation, he was beaten again.

Unable to bear their threats and any further beating, he said that he picked up the side mirror on the roadside. They continued to beat and threaten him until they told him to go home and that he should not come to school again as he had stolen the side mirror. Due to fear, he did not tell even his mother about what happened in the office. The next morning, he went to school as usual. It was a Tuesday. Without attending the school assembly, he stayed in the classroom.

After the assembly, a student came up to him and told him that he was wanted at the office. As he was approaching the office, Mr. Wijayapala, who was with some other teachers, called him, verbally abused him with obscene language and slapped him. At that moment, Ms. Manjula, another teacher, jumped upon him and started hitting him on the face. After the assault, he was sent to the office. In the office, they forced Tharaka to stand without moving. At the end of the second period, Ms. Manjula came near him, held him by his stomach and dragged him to the back of the office. There she held him from his chest and assaulted him by pressing him hard against the wall and slapped him continuously until he was semi-conscious.

After this, he was forced to stand upright until 2 pm without water or relief. At one moment, unable to bear his headache, Tharaka requested a tablet of paracetamol, which Ms. Manjula denied. After 2 pm when the school was closed, the Principal asked him to go home and return the next day with his parents. When he was about to leave, he was again called to the office. At that time there were five or six teachers standing in front of the office. Among them were Ms. Manjula, Ms. Sriyawathi, Ms. Karuna, Ms. Lalitha, Mr. Dayananda and Assistant Principal, Mr. Jayasiri. When he was walking towards the office, Mr. Jayasiri assaulted him again. After that he was kept standing until 3 pm. After 3 pm, the Principal chased him away.

On returning home at about 6 pm, he was taken to the Government Doctor who was in private practice. The doctor treated him and advised Tharaka to be admitted to the hospital his condition worsened. As his condition got worse, he was admitted to Government Hospital, Bulathsinghala, at about 10 pm on 20 July. He was treated up to 24 July and was transferred to Horana Government Hospital where he was discharged on July 26. Although he was treated for four days, he was not sent to a Judicial Medical Officer or psychiatrist.


He complains of severe headache, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, fear of assaulting by teachers, fear of arrest by police for theft of a side mirror worth only Rs.150/= that he had falsely confessed to avoid further torture by his teachers. The teachers and assistant principal were released on bail and organised a street demonstration on 27 July 2004 for their Right to Torture and for the arrest of Tharaka.

Tharaka has refused to go back to school in the future due to fear and threats, which has caused a complete break down of his education.

Please send a letter to the National Child Rights Authority of Sri Lanka and demand it to take proper and immediate action to correct this matter.

Send copies to:

1. Mr. Mahindra Rajapakse
Prime Minister
Cambridge Place, Colombo 7
Fax: +94 11 2 682905 / 575454
E-mail: secpm@sltnet.lk or bradmanw@slt.lk

2. Mr. K. C. Kamalasabesan
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
Fax: +94 11 2 436 421
Email: attorney@sri.lanka.net or counsel@sri.lanka.net

3. Mr. T.I. de Silva
Inspector General of Police (IGP)
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
Fax: +94 11 2 440440/426711/327877

4. Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
No. 36, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk

5. Prof. Harendra De Silva
National Child Rights Authority
330, Thalawathgoda Road
Tel: +94 11 2 778912/13/14
Fax: +94 11 2 778975
E-mail: ncpa@childprotection.gov.lk

6. Mr. Theo C. van Boven
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9016

7. Mr. Jacob Egbert Doek
Committee on the Rights of the Child
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9022

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ____________,

Re: SRI LANKA: Case of a young student assaulted by teachers and denied his right to education

Name of victim: Balawedage Sahan Tharaka, a 16-year-old student at the Bulathsinhala Madya Maha Vidyalaya, in year 11
Alleged perpetrators: 
1) Mr. Jayasiri, Assistant Principal of Bulathsinhala M.M.V [Central College], Bulathsinhala 
2) Ms. Manjula Watawala, a sports instructor, Bulathsinhala M.M.V
3) Mr. Dayananda, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V 
4) Mrs. Siriyawathi, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V 
5) Mr. Wijeyapala, teacher of Bulathsinhala M.M.V 
Date of incident: 19 July 2004 and 20 July 2004
Place of incident: Bulathsinhala M.M.V [Central College]

I am appalled to learn of the shameful treatment of Sahan Tharaka by the teachers, including the Assistant Principal and Principal, of Bulathsinhala M.M.V. 

According to the report I have received, after being accused of theft by some teachers on 19 July 2004, Sahan Tharaka was verbally abused and brutally assaulted by the above-mentioned teaching staff on July 19 and 20. The maltreatment meted out by the teachers included hitting in the face, being pinned to the wall and slapped, and being forced to stand upright for hours.  

Not only have these teachers violated the Convention against Torture (CAT) Act of Sri Lanka (Act No. 22 of 1994) - as they are government servants and therefore fall within its ambit - but they have also violated the Education Law, which states that all forms of punishment, and specifically corporal punishment, are prohibited.  They have also denied a child his right to education.

The Principal of Bulathsinhala M.M.V. further aggravated the situation by organising a street demonstration advocating his so-called Right to Torture, and calling for the arrest of Sahan Tharaka on an unsubstantiated accusation of theft.  

The indecent actions of these government servants should be investigated and they should be prosecuted accordingly. Further, the right to education of Sahan Tharaka should be protected thoroughly and he should be taken to a Judicial Medical Officer for a formal medical examination, which can then be submitted to court.  

I look for your action into this matter.

Sincerely yours,


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-42-2004
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Child rights, Right to education,