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'Protect our human rights!' - Tamils demonstrate in the North-East

Tamils in Batticaloa and Jaffna held demonstrations today calling on the Sri Lankan government to protect the human rights of civil society organisations and human rights defenders. 

In Batticaloa, protesters called for the protection of journalists and civil society organisations, as they face increasing levels of intimidation and harassment from Sri Lanka's state forces. 

Offices of civil society organisations in Batticaloa have been broken into and important documentation stolen from the premises as a part of Sri Lanka's ongoing campaign to crack down on those highlighting the island's abuses. 

Alongside calls for an end to threats against human rights defenders, protesters in Jaffna demanded for the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which facilitates arbitrary detentions, to be repealed. 

In her last report to the UN Human Right Council (UNHRC), former High commissioner Michelle Bachelet wrote that her office received reports of "surveillance, intimidation, harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, families of the disappeared and persons involved in memorialisation initiatives, by intelligence services, military and police, particularly in the North and East."

Bachelet added that she feared that without fundamental security-sector reforms and demilitarisation of the North-East, "this pervasive culture of surveillance and oppressive environment for the people in these areas will continue." 


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