Tell the truth

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Photo: © LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/GettyImages

Appalling abuses happen every day in Sri Lanka. This can’t go on. Call on the president to take up Amnesty International’s six-point agenda for change to demonstrate human rights progress in the country. Hurry, the petition closes on 10 September.

The government may have won its 26-year war against the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, but the abuses that became entrenched over that period persist.

Journalists, lawyers, grassroots activists – anyone who dares to criticize the authorities – can be picked up under draconian security laws, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and detained for years without access to the outside world. Sometimes the authorities bypass legal avenues, resorting to anonymous harassment and assaults. Reports of people being bundled into white vans and later dumped, or never seen again, are alarmingly frequent.

November’s meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Sri Lanka is our opportunity to demand accountability in the country. In September, we will take your signatures to representatives of the Sri Lankan government at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. From then, the clock will be ticking. It’s up to Sri Lanka’s authorities to take these demands to heart, acknowledge the abuses, and demonstrate that they are improving human rights in the country.

Sign this petition...

President Rajapaksa

As you prepare for November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, we recall the values and principles which all Commonwealth countries have committed to. These include: the protection and promotion of human rights, freedom of expression and access to justice.

In line with these values and principles, we call on you to demonstrate before November that progress is being made to stop the systematic violation of human rights in Sri Lanka.

We ask you to:

  • Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and abolish administrative detention
  • Release all those arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence
  • Guarantee access to a lawyer for anyone arrested
  • Establish and make public a comprehensive registry of all detainees including the date and place of arrest, detaining authority, place of detention, (including all transfers) and whether the detainee has been charged with an offence or released.
  • Publish the 2006 Commission of Inquiry report on 16 "serious violations of human rights" – including the case of five students killed in Trincomalee, and accept international help to resolve outstanding cases
  • Enact an effective Witness Protection bill

If Sri Lanka is to be a credible member of the Commonwealth, it needs to fully respect Commonwealth values at home. This is your chance to show the world that the government is telling the truth and making every effort to improve human rights in Sri Lanka.