500 Days since the Disappearance of Mr. Pattani Razeek!

Still No Police Investigation

Statement by Sri Lankan Civil Society Activists

(June 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On 25th June 2011 we marked 500 days since the disappearance of Mr. Pattani Razeek, a Sri Lankan Human Rights Defender, Managing Trustee of the Community Trust Fund (CTF) in Puttalam and Executive Committee Member of the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA).

On February 11, 2010, Mr. Razeek travelled to Polonnaruwa with CTF staff, where he met with a group of persons parked near the Jumma Mosque in Kaduruwela. Mr. Razeek was last seen getting into a van with those persons, having informed his colleagues that he was travelling to the Eastern town of Valaichchenai. Mr. Razeek has not been seen or heard from since. Shortly afterwards, Mr. Razeek’s family received a few calls from Mr. Razeek’s mobile phone number, demanding large amounts of money to secure his release. Then the calls stopped.

The family and CTF lodged several complaints with the local police following Mr. Razeek’s disappearance. The police filed a B report to the Puttalam Magistrate Court, on February 16 2010, naming Mr. Shahabdeen Nowshaadh, a former CTF employee, as the chief suspect in Mr. Razeek’s disappearance. The police have evidence linking Nowshaadh to several ransom calls made to Mr. Razeek’s family, on Mr. Razeek’s mobile number, after his disappearance. However, for over a year, the police have made no attempt to apprehend and question Nowshaadh regarding Mr. Razeek’s disappearance. Mr. Razeek’s family believes that the failure to take action against Nowshaad is connected to his close association with an influential government Minister from the area. In his anticipatory bail application to the Puttalam Magistrates Court in June 2010, Nowshaadh claimed to be associated with Industries and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, submitting that his arrest would cause irreparable harm to the Minister’s reputation and work.

As human rights defenders and members of civil society in Sri Lanka, we are outraged at the failure of the authorities to take Shahabdeen Nowshaadh into custody or even question him. We are deeply concerned about the lack of progress in investigations into Mr. Razeek’s disappearance as a whole, especially in view of allegations of political interference in the process.

It is interesting to note that, after almost 2 years of neglect, in the past week there has been some response to the Razeek family’s complaint to the National Human Rights Commission as well as information sent to them that the investigation has been handed over to the CID. We hope that these measures are not purely cosmetic.

These changes have occurred in a context in which management of the CTF, of which Mr. Razeek was a founding member and managing trustee, has been taken over by the Ministry of Defence on June 16 2011. An Interim Board of Management, including a senior military officer, has been appointed to manage the organization pending inquiry. We have no indication of the grounds on which such drastic action has been taken against the organization.

In keeping with commitments for the protection of human rights defenders and the freedom of association in Sri Lanka, we call for a credible investigation, free from political interference, into Mr. Razeek’s disappearance, including the swift apprehension of the chief suspect, as well as for guarantees of safety for Mr. Razeek’s family and community leaders in Puttalam who are campaigning on the family’s behalf.

1. Ven. Welimuwapathane Piyarathna Thero

2. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe

3. Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, Catholic Bishop of Mannar

4. Rev. Fr. S. D. P. Selvan

5. Rev. Fr. M. Sathivel

6. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manathunga, Director, Human Rights Office, Kandy

7. Rev. Fr. S. Maria Anthony, S.J.- Catholic priest

8. Rev. Fr. Terence Fernando

9. Rev. Fr. R. Augustine, Diocese of Mannar

10. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos, Diocese of Mannar

11. Rev. Fr. Praveen Mahesan, OMI

12. Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando

13. Rev. Fr. Sherad Jayawardena

14. Sr. T. E. Paul

15. JC Weliamuna, Attorney-at-Law

16. K. S. Ratnavel, Attorney-at-Law

17. U.L. Jaufer, Attorney at Law

18. Bhavani Fonseka, Attorney-at-Law

19. Dishani Jayaweera, Attorney-at-Law

20. Professor Jayantha Seneviratne, University of Kelaniya

21. H. K. Alagiawanna, Journalist

22. Kusal Perera - Journalist

23. Sunil Jayasekera, Convener, Free Media Movement

24. Freddy Gamage, Editor, Meepura newspaper

25. Sanjaya Senanayake, documentary film maker

26. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives

27. Dr. Nimalka Fernando, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka

28. Sunila Abeysekera, Executive Director, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre

29. Udaya Kalupathirana, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre

30. Deanne Uyangoda, Consultant, INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre

31. Chitral Perera, Janasansadaya

32. K. J. Britto Fernando, President, Families of the disappeared

33. Wasantha Ranil, Secretary, Families of the Disappeared

34. Philip Dissanayake, Secretary, Right to Life Human Rights Centre

35. Sudarshana Gunawardana, Attorney-at-Law, Executive Director, Rights Now Collective for Democracy

36. Sampath Pushpakumara, Attorney-at-Law, Director, Rights Now Collective for Democracy

37. Ruki Fernando, Director, Rights Now Collective for Democracy

38. Mahiya Abdul Rafeek, Centre for Islamic Studies

39. Ainslie Joseph, Convenor, Christian Alliance for Social Action

40. Mano Ganesan, Leader of Democratic Peoples Front, Convener of Civil Monitoring Commission, President of Democratic Worker's Congress

41. Siritunga Jayasuriya, Leader of the United Socialist Party

42. G.A. Prabath Kumara, Senior Civil Activist and a Provincial Journalist, Badulla

43. Dulan de Silva, Rural Development Consultant

44. M Mahuruf, Freelance Consultant

45. Shantha Pathirana, Human Rights Defender

46. Dilhara Pathirana, Concerned Citizen

47. Sandya Ekneligoda

48. B. Skanthakumar

49. Sheila Richards

50. Mirak Raheem

51. Dr. Philip Setunga

52. Dr. Mario Gomez

53. S. Surendran

54. Kelly Senanayake

55. Kanishka Ratnapriya

56. Niyanthini Kadirgamar

57. Jovita Arulanantham

58. Juliana Arulanantham

59. Anushke Guneratne

60. Gayathri Gamage

61. Nimal Perera

62. Rebecca De Alwis

Tell a Friend