10/10/2014, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Sri Lankan human rights activist attacked with iron bars

by Melani Manel Perera
In Geneva, the government reiterates its commitment to fight human rights violations. At home, a human rights activist is attacked and beaten by four men because he organised a demonstration in favour of another activist who has been in jail for months.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Sri Lanka reiterated its commitment to human rights in Geneva whilst at the same time a well-known Sri Lankan human rights activist was attacked in the island nation.

The incident occurred late afternoon on Wednesday in Vavuniya (Northern Province). The victim, G. Thevaraja, is now hospitalised in serious but stable conditions.

The Sri Lankan delegation addressed the 112th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights at 1 pm (4.30 pm in Colombo). An hour later Thevaraja, president of the Vavuniya Citizen's Committee, was attacked.

"Four people on two motorcycles surrounded him and beat him with iron bars," Fernando Brito, president of the Families of the Disappeared (FOD), told AsiaNews. "He did not suffer any head injuries because he was wearing a helmet but was heavily bruised."

Thevaraja was returning from a meeting meant to prepare a demonstration in honour of Balendran Jeyakumari, scheduled for today.

Balendran is human rights activist with FOD. She lost her husband and two eldest children, killed during the civil war. A third child vanished in 2009, at the end of the conflict.

On 15 March, a hundred soldiers and police officers surrounded her house, preventing anyone from going in or coming out. They then moved in and took away her and her 13-year-old daughter.

According to police, the activist "gave shelter to a criminal." Although no evidence was found to back the police claim, she is still in jail.

Back in March, police arrested a priest and a human rights activist who came to her defence. They were eventually released following a media campaign. 

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