Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

2nd Anniversary of the Abduction and Execution of 7 TRO Humanitarian Workers

by Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, January 29, 2008

Since January 2006, 60 humanitarian workers have been killed in Sri Lanka leading John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, to observe that Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers.

Pictures of memorial ceremony

Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) offices today took time to pay their respects and remember the 7 TRO humanitarian workers who were abducted on 29 and 30 January 2006 while traveling through the Welikanda area in the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) controlled Polonaruwa District.

Paramilitary forces allied to and working in conjunction with the GoSL abducted the 7 TRO workers (6 men and one woman) tortured them, raping the woman, and then executed and disposed of their bodies.  The bodies have never been found. This incident was the culmination of a series of attacks on TRO in GoSL controlled areas which began in 2004; it was also the beginning of a campaign of intimidation and harassment of local and international NGOs by the GoSL, paramilitaries and government controlled media outlets.

Since January 2006, 60 humanitarian workers have been killed in Sri Lanka leading John Holmes, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, to observe that Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places on earth for humanitarian workers.

7 TRO humanitarian workers abducted & killed in Sri Lanka January 2006 These killings of humanitarian workers appear to be aimed at limiting or ending the humanitarian work that local and international NGOs are engaged in, thus creating a climate of fear within the humanitarian community.   The execution of 17 of Action Contre La Faim (ACF) humanitarian workers in August 2006, a massacre the Nordic Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission blamed on the GoSL security forces, received worldwide attention and condemnation. Unfortunately this has not led to any improvements in conditions for humanitarian organizations or the communities that they serve.  

The lack of any meaningful investigation of the attacks on TRO, ACF or the other organizations has contributed to the current climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and has reduced the space available for humanitarian organizations to operate effectively.

Though the President of Sri Lanka created a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the ACF executions, amongst other cases, the TRO 7 were not among the cases taken up and the whole exercise is seen by most to be an attempt by the GoSL to placate the international community. Even the International Independent Group of Eminent Persons (IIGEP), set up to monitor and give technical advice to the COI, has severely criticized the investigations and the lack of independence of the COI.

TRO appeals to the international community, the UN and human rights groups to move beyond the tired, ineffectual statements issued to date. These statements have failed to have any impact on the GoSL. The first step should be to establish a United Nation Human Rights Monitoring Mission and to bring the massive violations of human rights by the GoSL to the attention of the Security Council. This is even more important now due to the unilateral abrogation of the Cease Fire Agreement by the GoSL and the resulting departure of the SLMM.

The 7 TRO humanitarian workers abducted:

29 January 2006 Abductions:

Mr. Kasinathar Ganeshalingam: Age 53 (Member TRO Board of Directors; Secretary of the Pre School EDC)

Mr. Kathirkamar Thangarasa: Age 43

 

30 January 2006 Abductions:

Ms. Premini Thanushkodi: Age 25 (Chief Accountant Batticaloa Office; Student at the Eastern University)

Mr. Shanmuganathan Sujendran: Age 24 (Children's Home Accountant)

Mr. Arulnesarasa Satheeskaran: Age 23 (Children's Home Accountant)

Mr. Kailayapillai Ravindran: Age 26 (Children's Home Accountant)

Mr. Thamiraja Vasantharajan: Age 24 (Children's Home Accountant)

 

TRO Headquarters
A9 Road
Kilinochchi

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Arjunan Ethirveerasingam
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