You wouldn’t expect to receive death threats for complaining that an exam was unfairly administered, would you? You wouldn’t expect to be abducted for telling school officials that a test paper had been leaked, would you? Yet that’s exactly what happened to D.M. Thushara Jayaratne, a final-year student at the Sri Lanka Law College.
Thushara publicly complained last November that President Rajapaksa’s son (also a student at the College) had received preferential treatment during final exams, including being seated in an air-conditioned room with access to a computer. On December 3, Thushara alerted school officials that the test paper for the Commercial Law II exam had been leaked and was being discussed by students before the exam. Instead of taking action, College officials rejected his complaint. He approached the Bribery Commission, which also turned him away. Then he filed a police report. The police questioned College officials about his complaint.
Thushara later told the police that after filing his police report, he had received calls from the College Office Manager threatening him repeatedly with abduction or death if he didn’t withdraw his complaint. He went into hiding and didn’t complete his last two exams. The threats decreased after his case was featured in numerous press reports.
But on Mar. 4, he was abducted by two men and held for nearly 12 hours before being released. During his abduction, he was questioned about complaints he had made against the College Registrar and his statements to international organizations.
Harassment, intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders and others who expose abuses in Sri Lanka are not uncommon these days. Thushara’s case is one more example.
I’m very concerned for Thushara’s continued safety. Please write to the Sri Lankan government and ask them to immediately provide him with effective protection and hold accountable those responsible for his abduction. Thanks.