by Immigration & Refugee Board of Canada, March 17, 2017
3. The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP)
Political Handbook of the World 2015 (PHW) states that Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) is a
“Tamil-based” party (PHW 2015, 1373). The same source indicates it is a government party and that it “was
formed in the late 1980s by Douglas Devananda” (PHW 2015, 1377). Similarly, a 2016 report by ITJP
describes the EPDP as a “pro-government Tamil party” (ITJP Jan. 2016, 41). Sources report that Douglas
Devananda is the leader of the EPDP (UN 16 Sept. 2015, para. 148; PHW 2015, 1377) and the General
Secretary of the EPDP (PHW 2015, 1377). According to a 2015 article by The Asia Foundation , the EPDP is
a “Tamil party led by ex-militant group leader Douglas Devananda that has been associated with the
Rajapaksa regime” (The Asia Foundation 26 Aug. 2015). According to sources, Douglas Devananda is the
Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development (PHW 2015, 1377; US 25 June 2015, 5).
According to the OISL report, Devananda “held Ministerial positions on a number of occasions under Presidents
Kumaratanga and Rajapaksa” (UN 16 Sept. 2015, para. 148).
According to the final report of the European Union (EU) Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Sri Lanka
for the 17 August 2015 parliamentary elections, the EPDP received 33,481 votes, or 0.30 per cent, of the
votes (EU 2015, 45). According to sources, the EPDP has one seat in parliament (The Economist 6 Feb. 2017;
The Asia Foundation 26 Aug. 2015).
In 2016, The Hindu, an Indian newspaper, reported that ten Tamil parties and groups in Sri Lanka,
including the EPDP, the Tamil United Liberation Front, and the Democratic People’s Congress, “have come
together to form a coalition — Democratic Tamil National Front” (The Hindu 6 May 2016). In a 2016 report,
International Crisis Group describes the EPDP as a “former Tamil militant group” that is part of the United
People’s Freedom Alliance, a “diverse coalition of parties” (International Crisis Group 18 May 2016, 35).
Further and corroborating information on the EPDP’s political alliances could not be found among the sources
consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
3.1 Relationship with the Military
According to a 2013 Jane’s Intelligence Review article by Joshua Smith, “a Sri Lanka-based political and
security analyst specializing in South Asia,”
[t]he EPDP was originally formed to fight alongside the LTTE, and was involved in the declaration of Eelam in
1990 before the entire provincial council was dissolved. However, it later allied itself with the government and
operated as a paramilitary outfit supporting Sri Lankan military forces against the LTTE; it continued as an ally
of the [Sri Lanka Freedom Party] after the end of the war, but with dubious credibility in the North. Indeed,
many humanitarian groups refer to the EPDP as the one of the most viable paramilitary groups operating with
impunity in the country. (Jane’s Intelligence Review 12 Aug. 2013)
The US Country Reports 2014 states that
[t]here were persistent reports of close ties between progovernment paramilitary groups such as the [EPDP]
and government security forces. Whereas during the war these groups served more of a military function,
often working in coordination with security forces, in the postwar environment they increasingly took on the
characteristics of criminal gangs as they sought to solidify their territory and revenue sources. (US 25 June
3.2 Relationship with the Tamil Population
According to the Country Reports 2014,
[t]here were persistent reports that the EPDP … engaged in intimidation, extortion, corruption, and violence
against civilians in the Tamil-dominated northern district of Jaffna. Reports throughout the year especially
focused on the role of EPDP members in issuing threats to opposition Tamil politicians or community members
engaged in human rights cases that could bring disrepute on the government. (US 25 June 2015, 5-6)
The same source further states that
[m]embers of the EPDP were reportedly involved in harassment and intimidation of journalists in Jaffna. The
EPDP increasingly used public protests outside of opposition news outlets as an intimidation tactic to promote
self-censorship. Throughout the year EPDP protests in Jaffna focused on the Jaffna Thinakkural newspaper for
its strong anti-EPDP stance. (US 25 June 2015, 34, italics in original)
According to the 2016 report by the ITJP,
[t]he [EPDP], which plays a key role in brokering releases of the victims, is still operating with impunity. The
modus operandi for abduction, detention, interrogation, torture, sexual violence and release in exchange for
large payments to the security forces and human smugglers remains unchanged. (ITJP Jan. 2016, 10)
According to the same source, in half of the 20 “‘white van’ abduction” documented by ITJP cases that
occurred after the January 2015 Presidential elections, the EPDP “was known to have brokered the ransom for
the release deal” (ITJP Jan. 2016, 22). An overview listing the ransom deals and involvement of the EPDP per
case as reported to the ITJP is attached to this Response.
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the ITJP stated that
[a] large number of victims whose abduction, torture and/or sexual violence at the hands of the security forces
(police and military) ITJP has documented post war (including the specified period 2014-2016) say that EPDP
was involved in brokering their release for money. In some cases the victims report that a man from EPDP is
actually present at the hand over point and sometimes even hands over a bag containing cash to their captors.
… In many cases victims say the EPDP man at their release is known to the security officials releasing them
and this is why their relatives [are] approached in the first place. The victims’ understanding is that when they
disappear, their families search for them everywhere and in desperation go to EPDP because they speak Tamil
and are known to have close ties to the security forces. It is unclear if EPDP keeps some of the ransom money
or how they are remunerated for their role. According to victim testimony, EPDP also seems to be involved in
organising the smuggling out of the country of victims – handing over the individuals to human smugglers.
(ITJP 28 Feb. 2017)
Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research
Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. For more information about the EPDP, please see
Response to Information Requests LKA105105 of April 2015 and LKA103961 of February 2012.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the
Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as
to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in
researching this Information Request.
 The Oakland Institute is an “independent policy think tank,” based in Oakland, California, that focuses on
“social, economic, and environmental issues” (Oakland Institute n.d.).
 PEARL is a “non-profit organization led by human rights activists concerned about the situation in Sri
Lanka” whose mission is to “end the systemic human rights abuses against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka,
Responses to Information Requests – Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Page 6 of 8
and promote equality, rights and justice on the island” and who advocate with US policymakers, the UN, the
EU, and “other governmental and non-governmental organizations” (PEARL n.d.).
 The ITJP is “administered by the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa under the guidance of
transitional justice expert Yasmin Sooka. ITJP both collects and stores evidence for any future credible justice
process but also intervenes where [they] can to assist victim communities in Sri Lanka in seeking
accountability” (ITJP n.d.).
 Inside Story is an Australian website on “politics, society and culture in Australia and internationally…
published by the Swinburne Institute for Social Research in the Faculty of Health, Arts and Design at
Swinburne University of Technology” (Inside Story n.d.).
 According to Human Rights Watch, following the “defeat of the LTTE” under the former President
Rajapaksa, Tamils spoke of “the ubiquitous white vans, civilian vehicles used by security forces to abduct
suspected LTTE supporters, who were then brutally tortured in custody” (Human Rights Watch 19 Feb. 2016).
 The Asia Foundation is a San Francisco based “nonprofit international development organization committed
to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia” (The Asia Foundation n.d.).
International Truth and Justice Project Sri Lanka (ITJP). January 2016. “Bribes Paid: (100,000 LKA Rs).”
Silenced: Survivors of Torture and Sexual Violence in 2015. p. 24.[Accessed 2 March 2017]