Sri Lanka arrests three doctors

I’m very worried.  In the final days of the war between the Sri Lankan government and the opposition Tamil Tigers, it had been hard to get reliable information as to what was happening in the war zone, since the government had barred access to the area to independent observers.  One of the few sources of information were the reports from three government-employed doctors (Drs. T. Sathiyamoorthy, Varatharajah and Shanmugarajah) who were working in the  war zone.  They provided eyewitness accounts to reporters detailing the suffering of the civilians trapped in the area, many of whom died from war-related injuries.  Their reports highlighted continuous shelling of areas in which civilians were concentrated.

The three doctors were reported to have left the war zone on May 15 with about 5,000 other civilians.  They were last seen at a holding area at the Omanthai checking point.  Amnesty International has gotten reports that Dr. Varatharajah was seriously injured and was airlifted by the Sri Lankan Air Force to an unknown destination.  We also understand that Drs. Sathiyamoorthy and Shanmugarajah were arrested and are now in the custody of the Terrorist Investigation Division, a police unit, in the capital, Colombo.  However, no detention order has been issued so their relatives don’t know where they are or what their status is.

I’m very concerned that the doctors may have been detained in reprisal for the reporting they had done from the war zone.  A Sri Lankan health official has been quoted as saying that they were detained on accusations that they gave false information about civilian casualties to the media.  A top UN official yesterday said that the doctors had “performed absolutely heroically” and expressed concern about their fate.

Please write to President Mahinda Rajapaksa (Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka, email:  priu@presidentsoffice.lk) and to the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., Jaliya Wickramasuriya (email:  slembassy@slembassyusa.org).  Please ask that the doctors be released immediately from detention unless they’re promptly charged with a recognizable crime.  They should be given all the medical care they need, especially Dr. Varatharajah, as well as access to their relatives and lawyers of their choice.  Thanks for your help.

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15 thoughts on “Sri Lanka arrests three doctors

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  3. Why was Nambiar having contact with Terrorists and trying to save them? Has the UN been infiltrated by the LTTE or bought over with their ill gotten money? The Terrorists had their chance to surrender to the army, but elected to fight to the finish. What happened to their trademark cynide capsule. Is it only for the rankers and not for the leaders. All this happened in Sri Lanka. I live in the USA and am an American citizen. I am losing faith in the integrity of the UN and the so called Human Rights slogan brought to bear against anyone they need to condem and put down. The greater World community should take a good look at the United Nations Organization and see whether it is serving a useful purpose in the world or being used as a political tool by the rich Nations.

  4. Why was Nambiar having contact with Terrorists and trying to save them? Has the UN been infiltrated by the LTTE or bought over with their ill gotten money? The Terrorists had their chance to surrender to the army, but elected to fight to the finish. What happened to their trademark cynide capsule. Is it only for the rankers and not for the leaders. All this happened in Sri Lanka. I live in the USA and am an American citizen. I am losing faith in the integrity of the UN and the so called Human Rights slogan brought to bear against anyone they need to condem and put down. The greater World community should take a good look at the United Nations Organization and see whether it is serving a useful purpose in the world or being used as a political tool by the rich Nations.

  5. There's a certain kind of mentality among those who support dictatorships in the 3rd World. These are upper or middle class people who live very well off the fruits of economic Westerrnisation but who at the same time denounce human rights & social justice as alien Western "imports". They loudly cheer their government"s mass murders — "We shot them like dogs", they openly crow about any movement which rises against THEIR sociopolitical status quo, while calling such movements ( & even entire peoples ) "terrorists" ( a very easily applied & highly questionable label ).Doctors & journalists & any else who take their professional ethics seriously are denounced as "terrorist sympathizers". These people are speaking with a lynch mob's logic — now they're saying the Tamil Tigers have bribed the entire UNO with money to speak on their behalf !! Is this any answer to the UN's moderate call for reconciliation among Sri Lanka's communities ? If we are to take such attitudes seriously, our concerns for every kind of human right in nightmarish Sri lanka must only be more urgent than ever .

  6. There’s a certain kind of mentality among those who support dictatorships in the 3rd World. These are upper or middle class people who live very well off the fruits of economic Westerrnisation but who at the same time denounce human rights & social justice as alien Western “imports”. They loudly cheer their government”s mass murders — “We shot them like dogs”, they openly crow about any movement which rises against THEIR sociopolitical status quo, while calling such movements ( & even entire peoples ) “terrorists” ( a very easily applied & highly questionable label ).Doctors & journalists & any else who take their professional ethics seriously are denounced as “terrorist sympathizers”. These people are speaking with a lynch mob’s logic — now they’re saying the Tamil Tigers have bribed the entire UNO with money to speak on their behalf !! Is this any answer to the UN’s moderate call for reconciliation among Sri Lanka’s communities ? If we are to take such attitudes seriously, our concerns for every kind of human right in nightmarish Sri lanka must only be more urgent than ever .

  7. Author John seems to have got the wrong idea. We are talking about a Terrorist movement that has killed thousands of innocent civilians. Sri Lanka is a Socialist Democratic Sovereign State and nobody wants a Dictatorship. The three doctors in question are state employees who maybe gave out false information to the news media under duress from the LTTE. It is justified for the state to investigate this issue as it bears on national security and then take whatever action if necessary under the law of the land. It is a fact that Nambiar was in contact with the representative of the Terrorist organisation. It is also a fact that Navin Pillay is biased towards the LTTE. They also have many more Tamils in the UN in impotant positions, an excessive propotion siding with the LTTE on many issues. If this is not infiltration, then what is it. This is why the Sri Lankan Government has to be firm with the UN and deal with these infiltrators to protect the 20 million Citizens in the country. I have yet to hear from any Human Rights Activist about the rights of the Average Sri Lankan citizen who is not in the Minority. I am glad that they want to remove the word "Minority" from the legal phrases in all communications. Sri Lanka Does not have minorities, they are all Sri Lankan Citizens with equal rights and oppurtunites. The term minority has been loosely used by many groups internationally to get greater benefits and privileges in the Western world. This has to stop. What about the rights of the other citizens.

  8. Author John seems to have got the wrong idea. We are talking about a Terrorist movement that has killed thousands of innocent civilians. Sri Lanka is a Socialist Democratic Sovereign State and nobody wants a Dictatorship. The three doctors in question are state employees who maybe gave out false information to the news media under duress from the LTTE. It is justified for the state to investigate this issue as it bears on national security and then take whatever action if necessary under the law of the land. It is a fact that Nambiar was in contact with the representative of the Terrorist organisation. It is also a fact that Navin Pillay is biased towards the LTTE. They also have many more Tamils in the UN in impotant positions, an excessive propotion siding with the LTTE on many issues. If this is not infiltration, then what is it. This is why the Sri Lankan Government has to be firm with the UN and deal with these infiltrators to protect the 20 million Citizens in the country. I have yet to hear from any Human Rights Activist about the rights of the Average Sri Lankan citizen who is not in the Minority. I am glad that they want to remove the word “Minority” from the legal phrases in all communications. Sri Lanka Does not have minorities, they are all Sri Lankan Citizens with equal rights and oppurtunites. The term minority has been loosely used by many groups internationally to get greater benefits and privileges in the Western world. This has to stop. What about the rights of the other citizens.

  9. So the operative point emerging now is this : even the term "minorities" is to be deleted from "all communications". So we don't have a suppressed minority whose grievances can be or need be addressed. The system is in denial of the existence of a whole people with distinct language, roots, religions & culture, a denial as total & complete as Golda Meir's dictum that there are no Palestinians. China could now use the same policy to deal with the Dalai Lama. This shows the Sinhalese now don't want the Tamils to even have autonomy, something the world will find very interesting to learn, indeed. Oh, I forgot, the world is to be kept firmly out of the whole picture, which will simply play out in the limbo that Colombo will design for it in its Socialist Democracy ! Since it's all done & decided, why bother then to join this international forum which is intended for the discusion of world problems, one wonders ?

  10. But, of course, i welcome you, who come & share words with me, Sinhalese or Tamil or other.

    And i don't doubr your Sovereignty.

    But, please see, today or some other time, that "sovereignty" is a strange word.

    From human lips it falls like flakes of granite.

    But one day you may see it to be as delicate & sensitive as the branches of trees, for it is always in a changing, living relationship with all other sovereignties, & can never survive alone.

  11. So the operative point emerging now is this : even the term “minorities” is to be deleted from “all communications”. So we don’t have a suppressed minority whose grievances can be or need be addressed. The system is in denial of the existence of a whole people with distinct language, roots, religions & culture, a denial as total & complete as Golda Meir’s dictum that there are no Palestinians. China could now use the same policy to deal with the Dalai Lama. This shows the Sinhalese now don’t want the Tamils to even have autonomy, something the world will find very interesting to learn, indeed. Oh, I forgot, the world is to be kept firmly out of the whole picture, which will simply play out in the limbo that Colombo will design for it in its Socialist Democracy ! Since it’s all done & decided, why bother then to join this international forum which is intended for the discusion of world problems, one wonders ?

  12. But, of course, i welcome you, who come & share words with me, Sinhalese or Tamil or other.

    And i don’t doubr your Sovereignty.

    But, please see, today or some other time, that “sovereignty” is a strange word.

    From human lips it falls like flakes of granite.

    But one day you may see it to be as delicate & sensitive as the branches of trees, for it is always in a changing, living relationship with all other sovereignties, & can never survive alone.

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