Two human rights lawyers Manjula Pathiraja and Namal Rajapakse (a namesake but no relation of the President’s notorious son) have received credible death threats from individuals and groups linked to the Government-backed Buddhist extremist group the BBS.
According to one early report Namal Rajapakse was followed on Saturday the 13th of September by a man wearing a helmet which covered his face. The man the approached him and said “you and Manjula (Pathiraja) are too much and they are noted for various activities against the Monk”.
The Lawyers Collective subsequently released a statement in which they clarified the nature of the incident and added further details:
“Around 6.20pm on 13th September 2014, two unidentified men with full faced covering helmets and jackets, had rushed to the legal office of Mr. Rajapakshe, situated near the Thorana junction, Kelaniya, in the Colombo district. One of them had been armed, and he had taken Mr. Rajapakshe to a corner, and threatened that he and Mr. Manjula Pathiraja would be killed, if they appear in “unnecessary cases”. They particularly mentioned several cases where Mr. Rajapakshe and Mr. Pathiraja had appeared against a controversial Buddhist monk. The two individuals had then fled on an unidentified motorcycle. Mr. Rajapakshe had made a complaint at the Peliyagoda Police Station bearing number CIB/III – 230/123.”
This follows another incident a month ago, as the Lawyers Collective statement goes on to say:
“On 4th August 2014, Attorneys Mr. Rajapakshe, Mr. Pathiraja and Mr. Lakshan Dias were intimidated by a group of thugs inside the Maradana Police station, in front of the Head Quarters Inspector. The three of them were making representations on behalf of their clients, on the breaking up of a peaceful private meeting and criminal trespass. Mr Rajapakshe had made a complaint regarding this incident on 5th August 2014. No actions have been taken by the Police in respect of this intimidation.”
Among the victims of human rights violations Manjula Pathiraja and Namal Rajapakse have represented in the recent past is a Buddhist Monk who has been attacked and threatened by the BBS.
We will update this blog if there are further actions that can be taken to keep these two activists safe, in the meantime additional publicity will hopefully ensure that the authorities take the threats against these individuals seriously, and let the attackers know that their actions are being monitored. So please do share this story far and wide.