The Sri Lankan campaign released a report this week, highlighting the Sri Lankan government’s ongoing surveillance, harassment and intimidation of Tails in the North – from human rights activists to ordinary citizens engaged in dissent.
“Amid much optimism about the relative increase in space under the current government, it appears that many serious ongoing restrictions faced by those living in the North of the country are being ignored,” said the report, based on a series of interviews carried out in late 2017 across the Northern Province. “In the context of ongoing impunity for past cyclical mass violence in Sri Lanka, the risks associated with a continuation of the status quo cannot be understated.”
The report – entitled “I live in fear and go to work” – found that 96% of those interviewed, had faced visits or questioning from Sri Lankan military intelligence. 63% were subjected to threats or physical violence.
“Almost all of those interviewed described serious fears for their personal safety and well-being as a result of their interactions with security agencies,” added the report. Many expressed concerns that they might be abducted, arbitrarily detained, tortured, sexually abused or killed .
The findings suggest that “Tamils living in the North (and East) of the country [are] continuing to bear the brunt of oppressive behaviour by the security agencies,” the report concluded.
“The voices of those heard in this report, meanwhile, make clear the huge task ahead if the Sri Lankan state is to break from the repressive legacy of the past – a task that will, first and foremost, require serious political will and a complete re-thinking of the role of Sri Lanka’s security agencies.”
“As highlighted most starkly in this report through the words of children disaffected by the targeting of their families by the security agencies, the government of Sri Lanka is failing to use the current historic opportunity to break the cycles of grievance at the root of decades of mass violence that all of its citizens – but especially its Tamil citizens – have endured.”