Amnesty International has launched an international petition urging the Sri Lankan government to prevent the
Army and military intelligence from harassing a Christian priest who organised a memorial service for those in the North who died during the last stages of the war.
The petition states that the police obtained a court order preventing the May 18 memorial service and asked that the government prevent the Army and military intelligence from harassing Fr. Elil Rajendram and the families of the deceased who planned to erect a stone monument honouring their dead at Mullivaikkal.
In the petition General Secretary of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty calls on international support for Fr. Rajendram and several international organisations claim that that Police had summoned Fr. Rajendram and his family members several times whilst also conducting searches into the homes of the memorial service’s
organisersduring the planning process and prior to the court order being issued.
The London-based Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justiceclaims that within the first two weeks of May military intelligence personnel had called on Fr. Rajendram six times, he had received several late night anonymous telephone callsand between May 16-20 been summoned three times to the Police to record his statement.
According to theInternational Truth and Justice Project (ITJP)Fr. Rajendramhad been summoned to the Vavuniya Police and asked to sign a statement written in Sinhala whilst his parents had been intimated during Police questioning. The ITJP also called on the United Nations to intervene in this matter.
The Amnesty International petition states that the Sri Lankan government had a duty to protect the right to commemorate the dead and called on petitioners to send email, telephone, fax or twitter messages to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister or the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the US.
Early this year, the government appointed Consultation Task Force for Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) chaired by Dr. Manouri Muttetuwegama recommended that the government remove restrictions against those in the North and East who wished to commemorate their dead.
UN statistics show that at least 70,000 civilians died in the Sri Lankan government’s war effort to capture the North.