Dons condemn incendiary statements against HRCSL



A group of academics has, in a statement, condemned threats issued by certain individuals to public officials, academics and citizens of the country. The most recent articulation of this dangerous trend has come in the form of a news report in a Sinahala language newspaper, whereby the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Dr. Deepika Udugama was castigated as a person determined to underine the Sri Lankan military.

The satement signed by 54 academics says"

"As members of the academic community in Sri Lanka, we are appalled by the increasing belligerence with which certain individuals appear to be making statements directed at public officials and academics of the country.

"It has been many months now since a certain group of individuals, led by ex-military personnel, proclaimed before the media that individuals who are supportive of a new Constitution ought to be considered as ‘traitors’ acting against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. Such individuals, it was further stated, ought to be held accountable for their ‘traitorous’ acts in a court of law and punished with death and that action will be taken against them at a future date when a new political leadership assumes power.

"Such statements, which have been given wide publicity in the media, have been made with impunity especially over the past few months. Video recordings of such statements are also widely available on the internet."

The academics say the most recent articulation of this dangerous and reprehensible trend has come in the form of a news report in a Sinhala newspaper on 29 June 2018, whereby the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and senior academic Dr. Deepika Udagama, has been castigated as an individual who, together with certain NGOs, acts as a spokesperson for the LTTE, determined to undermine the Sri Lankan military. They said Dr. Udagama had also been accused of preventing the Sri Lankan military personnel from joining the Peacekeeping Forces of the United Nations (UN). "We note that the HRCSL has issued a response against this baseless accusation that appeared earlier in an English-language newspaper.

"Statements such as the above are not only threats directed at the life and liberty of the Chairperson of the HRCSL. They amount to threats levelled at all public officials, academics and citizens of this country who subscribe to political opinions different to those who utter such statements. These statements, which are of a hateful and defamatory character, amount to threats that endanger human life and personal safety and are thus punishable under the law. Furthermore, it needs to be stated albeit reluctantly, that this criminal and fascist mentality, which seeks to threaten individuals with death for holding different political opinions, is unfortunately gaining traction within segments of our society.

"Given the extreme and pernicious nature of these statements, we urge the Government to take immediate action to stop individuals and groups from making such hateful statements which threaten the life of public officials, academics and fellow citizens of Sri Lanka. It is also incumbent upon the Speaker and the Constitutional Council to step in to protect public officials such as the Chairperson of the HRCSL who are appointed to Commissions under their aegis. We also urge media institutions in the country to act ethically and responsibly and desist from publishing such inflammatory statements which threaten the life and limb of individuals, at least in future.

"As members of the academic community, we have come together to condemn these hateful statements, despite our different political positions, since we believe that the ability to disagree without resorting to violence, intimidation and demagoguery should be a basic principle in a democratic and civilized society

The signitories to the statement are: Prof Sarath B.S Abayakoon, University of Peradeniya, Emeritus Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda, University of Colombo, Prof O.G Dayaratne-Banda, University of Peradeniya, Prof Sumathy Sivamohan, University of Peradeniya, Dr Ramya Kumar, University of Jaffna, Dr Sudesh Mantileke, University of Peradeniya, Prof Gamini Keerawella, University of Peradeniya, Dr Samanmala Dorabawila, University of Peradeniya, Dr Harshana Rambukwella, Open University of Sri Lanka, Prof A. Navaratne-Bandara, University of Peradeniya (Retd.), Chetana Karunatilaka, University of Peradeniya, Dr R Ramesh, University of Peradeniya, Prof Upul Abeyratne, University of Peradeniya, Dr Kalana Senaratne, University of Peradeniya, Prof Carmen Wickramagamage, University of Peradeniya, Emeritus Professor Kamala Liyanage, University of Peradeniya, Dr Ranga Kalugampitiya, University of Peradeniya, Emeritus Prof Savitri Goonesekere, University of Colombo, Dr Shyamani Hettiarachchi, University of Kelaniya, Dr Dinesha Samararatne, University of Colombo, Prof Theodore Fernando, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr Athula Samarakoon, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr G. Bandarage, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dileepa Witharana, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr Shavindra Dias, University of Peradeniya, Dr Harini Amarasuriya, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr Anil Jayantha Fernando, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Prof K.K.I.U Aruna Kumara, University of Ruhuna, Prof Prabhath Jayasinghe, University of Colombo, Mahendran Thiruvarangan, University of Peradeniya, Dr. S. Jeyasankar, Eastern University , N.G.A Karunatilaka, University of Kelaniya, Dr Kaushalya Perera, University of Colombo, Prof Dileni Gunawardene, University of Peradeniya, Dr Mahim Mendis, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, University of Colombo, Dr Ruvan Weerasinghe, University of Colombo, Dr Ranil Abayasekera, University of Peradeniya, Dr Kumari Jayawardene, University of Colombo (Retd.), Dr Ramila Usuf, University of Peradeniya, Dr Nalini Hennayake, University of Peradeniya, Prof Priyan Dias, University of Moratuwa, Emeritus Professor P. Wickramagamage, University of Peradeniya, Dr Kanchuka Dharmasiri, University of Peradeniya, Dr A. Rameez, Southeastern University, Dr S.N. Morais, Open University of Sri Lanka, Prof Camena Gunaratne, Open University of Sri Lanka, Prof Charmalie Abayasekera, University of Peradeniya, Dr Chandana Aluthge, University of Colombo, Prof Rohan Fernando, Open University of Sri Lanka, Dr Farzana Haniffa, University of Colombo, Prof Premakumara de Silva, University of Colombo, Dr Pavithra Kailasapathy, University of Colombo and Madhubashini Dissanayake Ratnayake, University of Sri Jayawardenapura

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