The Honourable Ban Ki Moon,
March 14 2010
Although a signatory to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the government of Sri Lanka is in breach of Article 25 and Article 9. Therefore we respectfully ask that you remind the President of the said government of its civil rights obligations under international law.
Article 25 of the ICCPR gives every citizen the right to vote in "genuine periodic elections" which shall guarantee "the free expression of the will of the electors." Sri Lanka has recently been subjected to a series of elections which were neither "genuine" nor "free".
The ruling party and the incumbent president used full power of the state to guarantee electoral success.
Armed gangs were used to intimidate supporters of the opposition candidate who challenged the incumbent president, General (Rtd.) Sarath Fonseka. The resources of state authorities were widely employed to help the sitting President's campaign; the state media which is run by the tax payers' money of Sri Lanka carried constant advertisements which were like programmes for him. Live coverage was given to meetings at which the President participated while the General's meetings were not given any publicity at all or virtually none. Likewise the state media was used to make false statements defaming Fonseka's personal character. It was repeatedly alleged that he was not eligible to be elected president and that therefore a vote cast for him would be wasted. Such statements were broadcast without a break until the
close of polling at 4 pm. The counting agents of candidates other than the President were threatened and chased away from many counting centres. Transport facilities were not provided to residents of IDP camps in the North with the result that only 5,000 out of 100,000 eligible and registered voters cast their votes.
Planned bomb explosions in the war a ected the northern peninsula on the day before the presidential election, preventing people casting their votes (the number who turned up was as low as below 15%}. The Elections' Commissioner admitted that he could not ensure the safety of even one ballot box and that "the situation has reached a dangerous level that is beyond me."
This manner in which the election was held denied the human rights of the Sri Lankan people. Soon afterwards, the main opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka was arrested under the Army Act even though he had already ceased to be a serving o cer, Military law has denied him the normal rights of an accused citizen; he has not yet been charged although one month of detention has passed.
Article 9 of the ICCPR states:
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. By its illegal detention of Sarath Fonseka without charge, the government of Sri Lanka has breached this article of the Covenant in every respect. That is the considered opinion of Retired Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, who said, after thoroughly examining the evidence, " In conclusion I wish to state that from whatever perspective one may look at the matter – the Constitution; the Universal Declaration; the ICCPR; the Code of Criminal Procedure Act; the Army Act or the CDS Act; the purported arrest and continued detention of General Sarath Fonseka who is now a candidate nominated for the Parliamentary Elections is entirely contrary to law and justice. "
The people of Sri Lanka hope that the UN is the guardian of Article 25 and Article 9 of the Covenant. They are precious civil rights which we are unwilling to lose.
Campaign for Democracy in Sri Lanka - Australia
Thirukkural திருக்குறள் Holykural
Kural குறள் - 533
பொருட்பால் - பொச்சாவாமை
எப்பால் நூலோர்க்கும் துணிவு.
'To self-oblivious men no praise'; this rule Decisive wisdom sums of every school.
Thoughtlessness will never acquire fame; and this tenet is upheld by all treatises in the world.
Translation by Rev. Dr. G. U. Pope, Rev W. H. Drew,Rev. John Lazarus and Mr F. W. Ellis