Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Amnesty Appeal on VC Raveendranath

20 December 2006

UA 336/06        
''Disappearance''/fear of torture or ill-treatment/health concern

SRI LANKA        
Professor Sivasubramanium Raveendranath (m), aged 55, Vice-Chancellor, Eastern University, Batticaloa

Professor Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, the Vice-Chancellor of Eastern University, was reportedly abducted while at a conference in the capital, Colombo, on 15 December. Since he was in an area tightly controlled by the military, it seems likely that his captors are an armed group operating with the tacit support of the security forces. He is at risk of torture. He suffers from heart disease, putting his life in greater danger.

Sivasubramanium Raveendranath had been attending a conference of the Sri Lankan Association for the Advancement of Science and was reportedly last seen by colleagues during the tea break between sessions.

On 20 September, gunmen abducted his colleague, the Dean of the Arts Faculty of the Eastern University, Dr Bala Sugamar.

It is widely reported that the kidnappers had demanded the immediate resignation of Sivasubramanium Raveendranath in return for Dr Bala Sugamar's release. Sivasubramanium Raveendranath handed in his resignation and Dr Bala Sugamar was released soon after. The University did not accept his resignation, on the grounds that it was a presidential appointment, but he had not yet felt it was safe enough for him to return to the university, and had been carrying out his duties from Colombo.  His family have said that Sivasubramanium Raveendranath had received several threats, though it is not clear from whom.

According to the head of a local NGO, Eastern University has a reputation for violent internal politics, mostly about control of the university. Many faculty members have resigned, gone missing or have been killed in the past. Some
people within the university have claimed that Professor Raveendranath is a supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but his family maintain that he is entirely apolitical.


The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated dramatically in recent months. Fighting between the security forces and the LTTE has increased since April, and this has led to scores of civilians being killed or injured, and forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes. Neither the security forces nor the LTTE appear to be taking adequate precautions to ensure that civilian are not killed or injured by military actions. Despite the escalating violence, both sides maintain that they are committed to a 2002 ceasefire agreement. Over two decades of conflict in Sri Lanka have claimed the lives of more than 65,000 people, the majority of them civilians.

In recent months in areas in the northeast of Sri Lanka, there have been reports of a number of people ''disappearing'' or being abducted by the security forces or armed groups. Such people are often called or taken in ''for questioning'' and held incommunicado. No receipts or records of their detention are made available, and the official mechanisms for reporting such events, such as through the National Human Rights Commission, are often unable to find where the missing people are. Anyone held this way is in clear danger of torture or ill treatment.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:

  • calling on the authorities to immediately do everything necessary to locate Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, who was allegedly abducted on 15 December;
  • calling on the authorities to ensure that Sivasubramanium Raveendranath is not tortured or ill-treated, and that he is allowed immediate and unfettered access to his family, a lawyer of his choice and any medical treatment he may require;
  • urging the authorities to conduct a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the abduction of Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, to make the findings public and to promptly bring those responsible to justice in a free and fair trial;
  • if Sivasubramanium Raveendranath is found to be in custody, calling on the authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally unless he is to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence.

    President Mahinda Rajapakse
    Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
    Fax:        011 94 11 2446657/ 94 11 2472100
    Salutation:         Dear President Rajapakse

    Lt Gen Sarath Fonseka
    Army Commander, Army Headquarters,
    Flagstaff Street, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
    Fax:         011 94 11 2855 018/ 94 11 2434 862/
           94 11 2338 653/ 94 11 2421 374
    Salutation:         Dear Lt General

    Gotabaya Rajapaksa
    Secretary, Ministry of Defense,
    15/5 Baladaksha Mawatha, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
    Fax:         011 94 11 2446 300/ 94 11 2541 529
    Salutation:         Dear Secretary of Defense

    Mahinda Samarasinghe
    Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights,
    383, Department of Meteorology,
    Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka
    Fax:         011 94 11 2681978/ 94 11 2881982
    Salutation:         Dear Minister

    Ambassador Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke
    Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
    2148 Wyoming Ave. NW
    Washington DC 20008
    Fax: 1 202 232 7181


Amnesty International
Rue d'Arlon 39-41 Brussels
B-1000, Belgium

December 22, 2006

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: The abduction of Vice Chancellor, Prof. S Raveendranath by the Sri
Lankan forces and its goons

The Vice Chancellor of Eastern University, Prof S Raveendranath, was abducted in Colombo on December 15th, 2006 by the Sri Lankan armed forces
in collaboration with its paramilitary goons.

I am extremely concerned and fearful for the safety of Vice Chancellor Prof S Raveendranath. He was intimidated in the Eastern University by the armed paramilitary goons on numerous occasions within recent times. A couple of months ago, he was asked to resign from the post of Vice Chancellor of the University by the government-aligned armed goons who abducted the Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty, Dr Bala Sugumar.

Since the abduction of Prof. S. Raveendranath almost a week ago, there has been no trace of his whereabouts and his wellbeing. My sincere prayers and thoughts are with him and his family.

Prof. Raveendranath is one of the many Tamil scholars who selflessly and tirelessly worked in the difficult and dangerous terrain only to help the less fortunate Tamil students in Sri Lanka. The humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, CARE, OXFARM, RED CROSS, WORLD VISION, UNICEF, etc. should do everything possible within their capacity to have him released immediately and unharmed.

Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission has said more than 1000 Tamil people have disappeared from the northeast of Sri Lanka since the current hawkish president Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected back in December 2005. The Asian Human Rights Commission, a private group based in Hong Kong, UNICEF, the ICRC and the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission have all accused the Sri Lankan government and its forces of unlawful abductions and disappearances in the NorthEast of Sri Lanka.

It is the moral duty of the International Community and all those working for the less fortunate people to use their good offices to secure the release of Vice Chancellor Prof S Raveendranath of Eastern University immediately and safely.

I thank you for taking time to read this letter and do hope you respond promptly to this urgent matter.

Respectfully yours,

E. S.

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