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ACHR PRESS RELEASE
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ACHR Index: PR/SLK/01/07
25 April 2007

Humanitarian workers in Sri Lanka threatened
- UN Secretary General urged to intervene -

 New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights today urged the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to intervene with the government of Sri Lanka against the threat issued by Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal Party, the political party headed by Col. Karuna, to the members of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies as well staff of the UN agencies working in Eastern parts of Sri Lanka. The threat to fall in line with the directives issued by the Karuna group or face dire consequences expires on 30 April 2007.

The Karuna faction sent two threatening emails respectively on 17 April and 20 April 2007 to the members of the CHA and UN workers.

At least seven humanitarian workers have been killed so far in 2007; while at least three workers of Halo Trust have been reported missing after abduction in Jaffna.

Because of the death threats, on 31 March 2007, the Consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations in Jaffna decided to stop releasing their monthly reports to the media.

“These are part of the concerted efforts of the Sri Lankan government to throw out humanitarian agencies from the war zones and make the lives of the civilians untenable. The threat given by Sri Lanka's Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Ms. Champika Liyanarachchi, editor of The Daily Mirror, on 17 April 2007 for the paper's coverage of actions of the Karuna Group testify the involvement of the Sri Lankan government.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

“The Sri Lankan government does not have a track record of protecting humanitarian workers.  Rather, its army personnel killed 17 workers of Action Contre la Faim and the government has failed to establish accountability. Unless the UN intervenes, more aid workers will become victims” warned Mr Chakma.

[Ends]


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