In celebrating the International Human Rights day 2010, the Human Rights office organized a programme with the theme "Human Rights defenders who act to end discrimination" with 04 victims of Rape and Torture namely, Jesudasan Rita, Lalith Rajapakse, Chamila Bandara and Anton Perera along with the Human Rights defenders sharing their views.
The programme was held at St Mary's Church Parish hall Ampitiya Kandy Sri-Lanka. The first session in the morning was an inter-religious prayer service organized by the parents and the family members of the disappeared on behalf of the disappeared the Human Rights defenders, with the participation of Buddhist monks and catholic priests. The morning session was concluded with an almsgiving to Buddhist monks and priests of other religions.
Chamila Bandara explained the process he went through since 2003 in seeking Justice and his experience of discrimination along with his family members. He said that he was discriminated not only by his relatives, friends but also by the villagers. He profusely thanked the Human Rights defenders who provided protection, security and those who accompanied him to the court. Chamila recalled his visit to the U.N in 2004 and said that it was a great opportunity to have testified before the committee. Due to the discriminative justice system his perpetrators were freed but however he said that he is happy that they were out of their service as police officers for a very long time and he said it was a well deserve punishment.
Jesudasan Rita, an outstanding survivor since 2001 still in search of Justice expressed her gratitude to all those who assisted her during the last 10 years in spite of discriminative acts of the law enforcing agencies and the judiciary. She said she even cannot remember in how many places she was sheltered for protection and security during the past ten years. She said although she is married and settled in life due to the undue delay in adjudication process her mind is not at rest. Further she said she cannot exactly remember details of the incident after 10 years. Rita is due to give evidence at Nuwar-Eliya high court on the 20th April 2011.She remembered with gratitude her late grand father Savarimuttu Anthonimuttu who was a great Human Rights defender until his demise last year. Rita said that she is confident that her perpetrators would be punished.
Lalth Rajapakse expressed his gratitude to all the Hu,an Rights defenders who assisted him since 2002 to free himself of all the charges brought against him. He said that he is now settled in Kandy, married to Sandamali, a rape victim and has a son. Lalith spoke of his late grand father who defended him as a dignified human person. He recalled the individuals who came to his rescue including Mr. Basil Fernando of AHRC. Lalith noted that his perpetrator, police officer also went through a very difficult period and he even worked as a security guard to earn his living and pay the lawyers.
Anton Perera, a former police officer explained the trauma that he went through due to the discriminative acts performed by his own police officers. He spoke of the social stigma that was attached to his arrest and consequently to his whole family. The importance of the Human Rights defenders and their role in the society was enumerated by him and extended his gratitude to the trauma counselors and the Human Rights defenders.
The Support Group
The Human Rights defenders who gathered at this ceremony expressed their joy of being part of the lives of the 49 survivors. Ms. Chammika said that the survivors are part of our family and therefore we do not just sympathies but feel one with them.
Fr Ivan Jayasundara expressed his joy to see the survivors and he said that he could remember everyone one of them when they initially came to us and he said the transformation they have undergone is commendable. Many of the Human Rights Defenders said it was a new experience to have accompanied the survivors to the court.
The Human Rights Defenders made a further commitment to protect, promote and safe-guard the Rights of the survivors and end discrimination. The survivors and the Human Rights defenders commended the work done by the Human Rights office in accompanying survivors of rape and Torture since 2001.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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