Over 60 human rights organisations and 180 individuals have signed a letter in support of International Truth and Justice Project's (ITJP) Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka, who is facing threats from the Sri Lankan government.
Last month, Sri Lanka's State Intelligence Services (SIS) Major General Suresh Sallay, who stands accused of human rights abuses, filed a formal complaint with the United Nations and the European Union, claiming that Ms Sooka had made "defamatory remarks" in a press release outlining his role in detaining a Tamil doctor.
Below are some excerpts from the letter:
"The undersigned organisations and individuals wish to express out stenous opposition to the unfounded allegations made by the Government of Sri Lanka against Ms Yasmin Sooka. These allegations and threats against Ms Sooka seek to undermine Ms Sooka's long standing reputation as a human rights defender and globally recognised justice advocate."
"The claims by the Sri Lankan authorities against Ms Sooka are an offence not only against Ms Sooka and her organisation and the human rights community but also the many victims and survivors associated with her work. We express our serious concern at the attacks against Ms Sooka in direct retaliation for her legitimate activities in defense of human rightss and victims in Sri Lanka, more particularly, to her activities in support of truth and justice."
"The accusations by the Government of Sri Lanka against Ms Sooka are in violation of these fundamental international principles, and constitute yet another attempt by the Government of Sri Lanka to distract the international community from the chronic injustice and impunity that prevails in Sri Lanka."
"We the undersigned call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to demonstrate their serious commitment to accountability and respect for human rights rather than continually undermining those who strive for those aims."
The ITJP had earlier released information regarding threats of imprisonment made to Dr Thurairajah Varatharajah and his family by Sallay, forcing them to make false testimonies, just days after the armed conflict had ended with tens of thousands of Tamils massacred. Dr Varatharajah was detained for approximately 100 days and coerced into giving false testimony in a staged news conference in Colombo. Sallay reportedly used as leverage the fact that Dr Varatharajah needed essential surgery on his arm to force him into the press conference, where they were instructed to state that only 650 people had died during the final phase of the massacres.
Read the full letter here.