Saturday, January 08, 2011

GOTB Action 2011: Sri Lanka

At our upcoming Group 133 meeting, one of our members will be providing more information about our Get On The Bus 2011 Sri Lanka action. The planned action will have activists demonstrating outside the UN building in New York, calling on the United Nations and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to conduct an independent investigation into war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war by both the Sri Lankan security forces and the Tamil Tigers.

If you saw my December 28 post, or follow this issue closely, you know that there is a possibility the UN may decide to conduct an investigation on their own, before the April 8 event. Naturally, we'll be very pleased if this happens, but it will also mean that we'll have to shift our focus for Get On The Bus. Should this be the case, we will demonstrate outside the Sri Lankan Mission to the UN and call on the government of Sri Lanka to protect the freedom of expression of journalists working in the country.

From the AI USA Sri Lanka country page:
In recent years, outside the conflict zone, journalists and other media workers have been attacked. At least 14 media workers have been the victims of unlawful killings since the beginning of 2006; one has allegedly disappeared in the custody of the security forces, while others have been tortured and arbitrarily detained. Emergency regulations issued by the Sri Lankan President have been used to silence critical media and generally violate freedom of expression in Sri Lanka, including through detention without charge or trial for periods lasting up to 18 months.

One of 2010's GOTB actions - and subsequent successes! - included calling for the immediate and unconditional release of J.S. Tissainayagam, or "Tissa," a Sri Lankan journalist who was arrested in 2008 for writing two articles which criticized the Sri Lankan governments conduct during the war with the Tamil Tigers.

Sri Lanka's Ghosts
from Human Rights Watch on YouTube:

(a bit dated, but gives a good sense of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka)

Refugees flee Sri Lanka "safe zone" - May 2009
Al Jazeera English on YouTube

More information:
The next AI Local Group 133 meeting will be Tuesday, January 11 at 7p.m. at the AI Northeast Regional Office in Davis Square at 58 Day Street, Suite 409.

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