Kumar Ponnambalam's 5th Death Anniversary

TAMIL CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS - TCHR/CTDH

CENTRE TAMOUL POUR LES DROITS DE L'HOMME

(Established in 1990)

www.tchr.net

Ref : AO2G/PR/2005 05 January 2005

Press Release

5th Death Anniversary of Kumar Ponnambalam

At this time of overwhelming pain and grief at the enormous loss of life in South and South East Asia, caused by the Tsunami on 26 December 2004, we cannot fail to remember that lives, villages, towns and land in the North East of the island of Sri Lanka had already been devastated by two bloody decades of war.

Over 70,000 Tamils were killed by government armed forces during the war. Now the Tsumani has killed over 21,000 in the North East. We express our deepest feelings of condolence to all who have lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy. The memories of those dear to us, killed mercilessly in war, are still vivid and we remember them too.

On 5 January 2000, Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, eminent and highly respected human rights defender, was shot dead in broad daylight in his car in Colombo. His death is a great loss to civil society and all who cherish the values of human dignity and human rights.

Mr. G. G. Kumar Ponnambalamís spirit for freedom and justice can never be extinguished. He synthesized thought and action in a critical way at a critical time in the history of the island of Sri Lanka. Fearlessly he spoke out for human rights on behalf of all people regardless of creed, ethnic background or gender, in international human rights forums.

Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam defended not only Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Regulations (ER) but also Sinhalese detained under the same Act and Regulations.

Mr. Ponnambalamís defence of human rights, locally and internationally made him a target for those systematically and violently opposed to human rights. The present government in power was believed to have been heavily involved in Kumar Ponnambalamís murder.

Since the assassination of Mr Ponnambalam, TCHR has called for an immediate independent and impartial inquiry.

According to Colombo media reports in 2003, the two main suspects involved in the assassination of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam have been killed. These people are believed to have been killed by contract killers. Who was contracted to kill these murderers? Why were they killed? Are the Sri Lankan Police and judicial system investigating this serious matter?

A media article also quoted the then Minister of Interior John Amaratunga, " the killing of these main suspects in those cases prove that some hidden hand was trying to mislead the police by destroying all evidence of the earlier VIP killings."

Who master-minded the brutal killing of a brave human rights defender? And how did the two murderers manage to move freely for nearly three years without being brought to justice? Who was protecting and sheltering them?

TCHR strongly condemned the Sri Lankan police and the Attorney Generalís Department for not holding a proper independent investigation regarding the brutal assassination of Mr Kumar Ponnambalam; an assassination surrounded by much evidence.

It was a tragic loss to the international human rights community the day Mr Kumar Ponnambalamís life was brutally taken away. But his thirst for justice and truth remains an inspiration and can never be forgotten. All those who ever knew him will continue to mourn his loss, knowing that he still had so much to give to dedicate to the good of humanity. Our thoughts as always are with his family and friends who continue to face the challenge of adjusting to their loss.

In the recent past, few human rights defenders and some journalists were harassed and killed in Sri Lanka. But no independent and impartial inquiry was held by the Sri Lanka police.

TCHR once more calls for :

∑ An immediate independent and impartial inquiry into the murder of Kumar Ponnambalam.

∑ An explanation from the Police officers who have failed to investigate this case effectively.

TCHR www.tchr.net

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Email : tchrholland@hotmail.com

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Posted January 5, 2005