Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Amnesty: Four Doctors Released, One Still in Danger

by Amnesty International, August 27, 2009

Dr S. Sivapalan is still detained without charge, and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

UPDATE TO URGENT ACTION 

Further Information on UA 129/09                    27 August 2009

Four doctors released, one still in danger

Four of the five doctors held under emergency regulations by the Sri Lankan government for providing "false information" to foreign journalists have been released on bail. However, Dr S. Sivapalan is still detained without charge, and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

Dr Veerakkathipillai Shanmugarajah, Dr Thurairaja Varatharaja, Dr Thangamuttu Sathyamoorthy and Dr Kathirvel Ilancheliyan Vallavan were released on bail on 24 August. Colombo chief magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi ordered their release on conditions that included reporting to the Vavuniya Police during the last week of every month. The four doctors are still in danger, because their case was so high-profile.

The doctors had been in custody since 15 May, when they were detained at the Omanthai crossing point, for providing "false information" and what the government said were pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) statements to international media outlets.

On 8 July the authorities held a press conference where the doctors, including Dr S. Sivapalan, retracted their earlier reports from the conflict zone. They said they had "exaggerated" the numbers of civilian casualties, as a result of pressure from the LTTE.

Amnesty International is concerned about how genuine these “confessions” were, given the doctors’ prolonged detention; their vulnerability to torture and other ill-treatment by Sri Lankan officials, who have a record of mistreatment of detainees and witnesses.   There are contradictions between the doctors’ recent public statements and independently verified facts.

  • PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Sinhalese, Tamil or your own language: Expressing concern for Dr.Sivapalan, who has been detained without charge since 15 May, and calling on the authorities to release him immediately, unless he is to be charged with a recognisably criminal offence;
  • Calling on the authorities to ensure the safey of the released doctors (naming them).
  • Calling on the authorities to repeal or revise emergency regulations and other special security legilsation so as to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS TO:


His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka                                                

Fax: +94 11 2446657

Salutation: Your Excellency

 

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa
Secretary of Defence
Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order
15/5, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,   
Colombo 03, Sri Lanka

Fax: +94 11 254 1529

Salutation: Dear Mr Rajapaksa

  COPIES TO:

Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya
Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
2148 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Fax:  1 202 232 7181

Email:  slembassy@slembassyusa.org

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