The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (The Observatory) has asked for your help in defending a man who is coming under threat because he dared to tell the truth about Sri Lanka’s human rights’ record.
Sunanda Deshapriya is a human rights defender, press freedom campaigner and a journalist from Sri Lanka who was the Head of the Free Media Movement before going into exile in 2009. He blogs in English, and in Sinhalese, and contributes to Sri Lanka Brief. He attended a side event organised by the Sri Lankan Government at the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva where he had a cordial, balanced, and honest conversation about the state of human rights in Sri Lanka.
Since then he has been on the receiving end of inaccurate media stories, death threats, and smears from persons unknown. This is nothing new for him but the level and ferocity of the threats has lead the observatory to fear for the safety of those members of Sunanda Deshapriya’s family who remain in Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka enjoys creating a culture of fear to discourage anybody from speaking out about the true situation in Sri Lanka. It seems likely that those making the threats are linked to the Sri Lankan Government; but at very least the Sri Lankan Government are guilty of generating the levels of impunity which allows those who threaten people like Sunanda to continue to do so safe in the knowledge that no effort will be made to track them down and bring them to justice.
But by taking part in The Observatory’s campaign we can show the Government of Sri Lanka, and those making the threats, that the world is watching. This will discourage them from any further actions against Sunanda and his family.