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Ensure the security of Fishers Union Leaders Herman Kumara and Anura Roshantha

Written By NAFSO on Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 5:39:00 PM

We, the undersigned civil society organisations and activists, are deeply disturbed by the threats faced by Mr. Herman Kumara of the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) and Mr. Aruna Roshantha Fernando of All Ceylon Fisher Folk Federation (ACFFF) and condemn these attempts to stifle democratic rights and silence these leaders.



Herman Kumara was followed from the airport by an unknown group upon his return to Sri Lanka after attending a meeting overseas on 24th February 2012. This group tailed him to his village and made inquiries from neighbours about his whereabouts. Herman Kumara believes that their intention was to abduct him.

We believe that that the current threat to Herman Kumara is a direct consequence of his naming in Parliament by the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Development, Dr. Rajitha Senarathne on 21st February 2012, as one of two persons responsible for the protests of the fishing community against the fuel price increase – in which one fishermen in Chilaw was shot dead by the Special Task Force (STF).
Despite numerous statements by the protestors themselves that their agitation was spontaneous and self-organised, and not instigated by others, both Herman Kumara and Anura Roshantha have had to go into hiding in fear of their safety because of these unfounded and malicious allegations.
Herman Kumara is the national convenor of a vibrant fisher people’s organisation in Sri Lanka – the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) – and he has been the General Secretary of the World Federation of Fisher People (WFFP) for several years.

He is a leading activist involved in other movements including the People’s Alliance for the Right to Land (PARL). He has worked tirelessly on individual campaigns to protect the rights of fishermen in the Negombo lagoon, whose livelihood was threatened by the introduction of sea-planes, and in opposing moves to appropriate the land of villagers in Kalpitiya for tourist development.
We have worked with Herman Kumara and his organisation for many years and we know the important role they have played in creating people’s awareness and sustaining the struggle against injustice where the socio-economic and democratic rights of people are threatened by the State or other actors.
Herman Kumara and NAFSO have also participated in building solidarity between people in the North and East and those in the South through people-to-people dialogues for peace and sustainable development. The despicable threats and the use of the state media to intimidate Herman Kumara and NAFSO aim to undermine all these initiatives.

These threats against Herman Kumara and others are not isolated incidents but rather, just an example of a pattern of events that is taking place in the country to intimidate civil society organisations and human rights defenders involved in protecting and securing the rights of our fellow citizens. As organisations and individuals actively involved in struggles and movements for social justice and democratic rights, we are deeply concerned by these recent incidents targeting individuals, and the broader trends of intimidation and violence.

We would like to appeal to all people, regardless of political opinion, to join in solidarity to condemn this intimidation and to call for basic freedoms of association and expression to be protected so that Herman Kumara, Anura Roshantha, and many others activists and organisations, can function freely.
We appeal to the government of Sri Lanka to take urgent steps to:
Conduct impartial investigations into the threats faced by Herman Kumara and Anura Roshantha;

1.To protect the lives of these activists exercising their lawful and constitutionally protected freedoms;
2.To instruct state security and intelligence agencies to desist from surveillance and intimidation of all activists engaged in non-violent social action;
3. To unequivocally and publicly defend the rights of human rights defenders in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Endorsed by (Organizations):
1. Movement for Land and Agricultural Reforms (MONLAR)
2. Uva farmers’ collective of poison free agriculture (UFCPFA)
3. Vikalpani National Women’s Federation
4. People’s Health Movement
5. Sri Lanka Nature Group
6. Environment Conservation Trust
7. Mothers and Daughters of Lanka
8. Womens Centre
9. IMADR Asia Committee
10. Sri Lanka human rights defender network
11. Centre for Environmental Justice.
12. Savisthri women’s Movement
13. Women’s Action for Social Justice
14. National Active Women’s United Collective
15. Centre for Policy Alternatives
16. Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union
17. Movement Of Stand-Up
18. All Lanka Peasants Front
19. Interfaith Cooperation Forum
20. International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth
21. International Federation of Catholic Adult Rural Movements
22. FIAN Sri Lanka Working Group
23. Uwa Vellassa Kantha Sanvidhanaya
24. Southern Fisheries organization, Matara
25. Christian Alliance for Social Action
26. People for Human Rights and Equality (PHRE), Melbourne, Australia
27. Lawyers for Democracy
28. Lanka Solidarity
29. People’s Alternatives to Climate Change and Crisis in Agriculture

Endorsed by (Individuals):
1. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
2. Fr. Oswald B. Firth, OMI
3. Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando
4. Rev Fr Ashok Stephen OMI
5. Prof. Kumar David
6. Prof Amal Kumarage
7. Dr. Sumathy Sivamohan – Senior Lecturer
8. Dr. Deepika Udagama—academic
9. Lionel Bopage
10. Melani Manel Perera – Journalist
11. Danesh Karunanayake – academic
12. Sunila Abeysekara
13. Gamini Viyangoda
14. Balasingham Skanthakumar
15. Chandraguptha Thenuwara- Artist/ Senior Lecturer
16. Padma Pushpakanthi- Social Development Activist
17. K. P. Somalatha- Social Development Activist
18. Priyanjith Alokabandara – freelance journalist
19. Anushaya Collure
20. H.M.P. Sanjeewanie – Researcher
21. Ruki Fernando
22. Shanthi Sachithanandam
23. Sandun Thudugala
24. Rohini Hensman (freelance writer and researcher)
25. Mylvaganam Sooriasegaram
26. Santhush Kumar Pararajasingam
27. Sunil Bastian
28. Shamala Kumar, University of Peradeniya
29. Ainslie Joseph, Convenor of Christian Alliance for Social Action
30. Ahilan Kadirgamar
31. Balachandran Gowthaman
32. Mahendran Thiruvarangan
33. Shakya Pathmalal Lahiru
34. Niyanthini Kadirgamar
35. Marshal Fernando
36. Dayapala Thiranagama
37. Mahendran Thiruvarangan
38. Chinthaka Rajapakse

Monday, 26 March 2012

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