|Sri Lankan MP, Sivaganam Sritharan, was the victim of an assassination attempt in 2011. ©YouTube|
Members of IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians are to begin a three-day mission to Sri Lanka to boost investigations into the attempted assassination of an opposition Tamil MP, as well as push for answers on the unresolved cases of two other Tamil MPs killed in the country.
The IPU mission from 9-11 July is being led by the Vice-President of the Human Rights Committee, Chilean MP Juan Pablo Letelier. The mission will raise its concerns about the cases with senior figures in government and the judiciary, including the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police.
Sivaganam Sritharan, a member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) party, was travelling from Vavuniya in the Tamil heartland in the north to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on 9 March 2011, when his vehicle came under a grenade attack. Thanks to the skill of his driver, Sritharan escaped unscathed.
The assassination attempt came three years after the previous incumbent of Sritharan’s parliamentary seat was murdered. Both that assassination and the attack on Sritharan himself remain unpunished with the latter continuing to face threats to his security.
The mission will also examine the circumstances surrounding two other cases involving TNA MPs who were brutally murdered in public. Joseph Pararajasingham was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on 24 December 2005 during a Christmas Eve church mass in the presence of around 300 people. His wife and seven other victims sustained gunshot injuries while the perpetrators have never been caught.
Nadarajah Raviraj was assassinated on 10 November 2006 along with his security officer, while travelling in his vehicle along a main road in Colombo.
IPU is deeply concerned that both investigations have come to a standstill and that witnesses are too afraid to come forward. The delegation will be pressing authorities to put an effective witness protection programme in place.
IPU will also address concerns at the way parliament handled allegations of ill-treatment of the late Jayalath Jayawardena, an MP and human rights activist, who died in May.After more than 25 years, the civil war in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009 when government forces defeated the Tamil Tigers, a separatist group from the north of the country.