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233 Individuals and 19 Organizations Sign Petition Urging President Sirisena not to Pardon Convicted Prisoner Bodu Bala Sena Gen -Secy Gnanasara Thero on Feb 4 Independence Day.

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(Text of a petition signed by 233 Individuals and 19 Organizations Urging
President Sirisena not to issue a Presidential pardon on February 4th Independence day to Convicted prisoner Bodu Bala Sena Gnanasara Thero)

We, the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals are increasingly concerned by reports that Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara thero (hereinafter Gnanasara thero) may be granted a presidential pardon in view of Independence Day celebrations on 4th of February 2019 on the request of a few powerful politicians and religious leaders. Presidential pardons must be granted on objective criteria, including the remorse shown by the convict, the time already served, the circumstance of the case and the crime that has been committed. Without objective criteria, the use of the Presidential pardon to release convicts could seriously undermine the independence of the judiciary and rule of law in the country.

Gnanasara thero is presently incarcerated after being convicted by two different courts for separate offences of contempt of court and criminally intimidating Sandya Ekneligoda, a woman human rights defender and wife of a disappeared journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda. His absolute lack of respect for the judiciary is evident from his conduct. In this, his vitriolic display of hate towards Sandya Eknaligoda, in the vicinity of the Magistrate’s Court when she was attending hearings into the disappearance Prageeth Eknaligoda. His lack of remorse has also been specifically commented on by the President of the Court of Appeal in his 56-page judgment.

Background of the Perpetrator

We note that Gnanasara thero has a history of having incited violence against religious minorities in the past, leading to death, to destruction of private and public property, and inciting hate against religious minorities. He was involved in inciting hate in Aluthgama in 2014, resulting in attacks against Muslims by Sinhala Buddhists in the area and the killing of four persons. To-date, the involvement of Gnanasara thero in the incitement to hate in Aluthgama has not been investigated, or prosecuted. He has yet to be charged, investigated or prosecuted for his direct involvement in any of these violent incidents. Further, in relation to the number of pending court cases against him, i.e. intimidation and harassment of Ven. Watareka Vijitha thero, we fear that they will be undermined if he is released.

There are also reports of his direct involvement in other incidents of violence against Muslims and Christians. It is also pertinent to note that he is presently incarcerated not for his involvement in hate-speech and inciting violence against religious minorities. A pardon now may also make investigations, prosecution and conviction of him more difficult for some of the violence he is alleged to have been involved in and incited.

Serious blow to the Rule of Law

If a Presidential Pardon is given to Gnanasara thero when he is convicted of contempt of court, it would seriously undermine the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and administration of justice. It will also make victims and witnesses further vulnerable to similar intimidation in the future. It would illustrate the lack of commitment and political will to guarantee equality and inter-religious harmony in Sri Lanka.

In light of the above we are concerned that any move to provide a Presidential Pardon to Gnanasara thero would result in immunity to similar hard-line individuals and groups, to act above the law and to blatantly intimidate and threaten victims and witnesses in cases involving human rights abuses and even act in contempt of court. We further condemn the submissions for his pardon made by a few members of parliament, religious leaders and others who had advocated for his release. Their submission is in direct contradiction with the rule of law and independence of the judiciary, and may contribute to a threat to freedom of expression and freedom of religion of religious and ethnic minorities. If Gnanasara thero is released on Independence Day, it would indicate that the Government supports a culture of impunity for those who engage in the type of human rights violations that Gnanasara thero has been involved in.

In light of this, we the undersigned urge President Maithripala Siresena to;

(a) Guarantee that Gnanasara thero will not be released on 4th of February 2019, and any plans to do so are immediately terminated;

(b) Direct all agencies involved to expedite investigations into the alleged crimes committed by Gnanasara thero including in Aluthgama 2014 and prosecute him before ordinary courts with all guarantees of fair trial and without recourse to the death penalty.

Signatories;

Individuals

1. Abdul Ramees
2. Ajita Kadirgamar
3. Amalini De Sayrah
4. Ameena Hussein
5. Ameer Faaiz
6. Anberiya Hanifa – Activist
7. Aneesa Kathankudi – President, Islamic Women’s Association for Research
and Empowerment
8. Angelica Chandrasekaran
9. Anithra Varia
10. Annouchka Wijesinghe
11. Anthony Jesudasan
12. Anuradha Rajaretnam
13. Anushaya Collure
14. Aruna Shantha Nonis
15. Ash Rizvi
16. B. Gowthaman
17. Bhavani Fonseka
18. Buhary Mohamed – Human Rights Activist
19. C. Perera
20. C. Ranitha Gnanarajah – Attorney-at-Law
21. Chandra Jayaratne
22. Chandraguptha Thenuwara
23. Chandrika De Silva
24. Channaka Jayasinghe
25. Charith De Silva
26. Chulani Kodikara
27. Damith Chandimal
28. Deanne Uyangoda
29. Deborah Philip
30. Deekshya Illangasinghe
31. Denver Mark Peterson
32. Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah – CEO, Alliance Development Trust
33. Devaka Weerasinghe – University Student
34. Dileni Gunewardena – University of Peradeniya
35. Dinushika Dissanayake
36. Dorin Rajani
37. Dr. A.C. Visvalingam – Retired Engineering Consultant
38. Dr. Ameer Ali
39. Dr. Arjuna Parakrama
40. Dr. L. Solomons – Language Matters
41. Dr. Mareena Reffai
42. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
43. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne
44. Dr. Sepali Kottegoda
45. Dr. Wijaya Jayatilaka – Kandy
46. Emil van der Poorten – A supporter of Human Rights
47. Evangeline Shanthini Ekanayake
48. F. Raajan
49. F. Zackariya
50. Fabian Ananthamoorthy
51. Fahad Farook
52. Farah Mihlar
53. Fawzil Amir
54. Fazal Izzadeen
55. Florine Marzook – Independent Researcher
56. Gamini Ruberu
57. Ganga Wijesingha
58. Gayathri Gamage
59. Geoffrey Alagaratnam – President’s Counsel & past President, Bar Association of Sri Lanka
60. Godfrey Malarnesan
61. Harini Amarasuriya – Open University of Sri Lanka
62. Harshini Ranasinghe
63. Hasanah Cegu Isadeen
64. Hemamali Wijesinghe
65. Herman Kumara
66. Himani Wijemanne
67. Hyshyama Hamin
68. Ian Ferdinands
69. Iffath Shibly – Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
70. Imran Rajabdeen
71. Imtiaz Muhsin
72. Indika Ruwan
73. Indrakanthi Perera
74. Ishara Danasekara
75. Isuru Perera
76. J. Tariq Mahmud – Banker
77. Jake Oorloff
78. Jansila Majeed – Women’s Rights Activist
79. Jayantha Dhanapala – Retired Ambassador and former UN Under-Secretary-General
80. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
81. Jehanki Anandha
82. Jiffry Pakeermohideen
83. Joanne Senn
84. Joseph Jeevanantham
85. Jovanka Jayaweera
86. Judith Dharmaratne
87. Juwairiya Mohideen – Women’s Rights Activist
88. K. Aingkaran – Attorney-at-Law
89. K. Hemalatha
90. K. Nihal Ahamed
91. K.N. Abeygunawardana – Independent Consultant
92. K.P. Somalatha
93. Kalani Subasinghe
94. Kamani Jinadasa – Women’s Rights Activist
95. Kaushalya Herath
96. Kimaya De Silva
97. Kumudini Samuel
98. Kushlani Lane
99. Lakmali Hemachandra
100. Lakshman Gunasekara – Journalist
101. Lucille Abeykoon
102. M.I.S. Marikar
103. M.I.T. Aathifa – Muslim Women’s Research and Action Forum
104. M.T.R. Akbar
105. Mahalaxumy Kurushanthan – Women’s Rights Activist
106. Mahendran Thiruvarangan – University of Jaffna
107. Mahesh Senaratne
108. Mario de Soyza
109. Mario Gomez
110. Marisa de Silva
111. Mark Susan
112. Mazeena Faiz
113. Megara Tegal
114. Milhan Ikram Mohamed – Attorney-at-Law
115. Modestus de Silva
116. Mohamed Anifa
117. Mohamed Othman
118. Mohamed Suhood – Accountant
119. Mohan Nagarajah
120. Mujeebur Rahman (LLB)
121. Munza Mushtaq
122. Naina Mohamed Saroor
123. Natasha Fernandopulle
124. Nihal de Silva
125. Nilkanta Fernandopulle – Sri Lanka Counsellors and Complementary Therapists
126. Nilshan Fonseka
127. Nissanka Rajapaksa
128. Nuradh Joseph
129. P. Selvaratnam
130. P.N. Singham
131. Paba Deshapriya
132. Padma Pushpakanthi
133. Prashanthi Mahindaratne – Attorney-at-Law
134. Prema Gamage
135. Priyanthie de Silva
136. Prof. Camena Guneratne – Open University of Sri Lanka
137. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne
138. Prof. Kumar David
139. Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe
140. Prof. Qadri Ismail
141. Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – Member, Election Commission
142. Prof. Sitralega Maunaguru – Batticaloa
143. Raisa Wickrematunge
144. Rajany Chandrasegaram
145. Ranmalie Fernando
146. Rehab Mahamoor
147. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
148. Rev. Fr. M. Sathivel – Orumee Up-country Civil Society Forum & Co-ordinator, Up-
country Social Research Centre
149. Rev. Fr. Nandana Manatunga
150. Rev. Fr. Reid S. Fernando (Retired)
151. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
152. Rev. Fr. V. Yogeswaran
153. Rev. Sr. Christine
154. Rev. Sr. Ethel Fernando HF
155. Rev. Sr. Helen Fernando HF
156. Rev. Sr. Jeyam
157. Rev. Sr. Mala Fernando, Superior HF
158. Rev. Sr. Naali Janzs HF
159. Rev. Sr. Nichola
160. Rev. Sr. Rasika Pieris HF
161. Rev. Sr. Sylvia
162. Rio Ziegelaar
163. Rita De Silva
164. Rohan Abeyratne
165. Rohini Hensman – (Writer and Researcher)
166. Roshaan Hettiaratchi – Attorney-at-Law
167. Roshan Dharmaratne
168. Roshan Mendis
169. Roshini Atukorala – Women’s Rights Activist
170. Rosmarina Fernando
171. Ruki Fernando
172. Rumala Morel – University Lecturer
173. Ruvan Weerasinghe – University of Colombo
174. Ruvin de Silva
175. Ruwanthie de Chickera
176. S. Easwary
177. S. Ithayarani – Women’s Action Network (WAN) member, Trincomalee
178. S. Nirmaladevi
179. S. Niventhini
180. S. Tharshan
181. Saadiqa Fauz
182. Sabra Zahid
183. Sakuntala Mohini Sachithanandan
184. Sakuntala Kadirgamar
185. Sampath Samarakoon
186. Sandun Thudugala
187. Sandya Priyangani Ekneligoda
188. Sanjana Hattotuwa
189. Sanjayan Rajasingham
190. Sanjeev Visvanathan
191. Sarah Arumugam
192. Sarala Emmanuel – Batticaloa
193. Selvaraja Rajasegar
194. Senel Wanniarachchi
195. Shalomi Daniel
196. Sham Nawaz
197. Sharmila Seyyid – Chairwomen, Mantra Life
198. Shehan De Alwis
199. Sheila Richards
200. Shenali De Silva
201. Shirani Ratnaweera
202. Shivantha Rathnayake
203. Shiyan Jayaweera
204. Shreen Saroor
205. Siraj Cader
206. Sirimal Peiris
207. Sithy Fahima Rizvan Sahabdeen
208. Srinath Perera – General Secretary, Free Trade Union Centre
209. Subathra Yogasingham
210. Subha Wijesiriwardena – Women and Media Collective (WMC)
211. Suchith Abeyewickreme
212. Sunanda Deshapriya
213. Sunel Dias
214. Suren D. Perera
215. T. Mathuri – Attorney-at-Law
216. Thassim Junkeer
217. Thushari Madahapola
218. Thyagi Ruwanpathirana
219. Udaya Kalupathirana
220. V. Shamini
221. V. Sinthuka
222. V. Thayalini
223. Vanie Simon – Women’s Rights Activist
224. Varuna Mallawarachchi – Attorney-at-Law
225. Venuri Perera
226. Vimukthi de Silva
227. Vraie Cally Balthazaar
228. Waradas Thiyagaraja – University of Colombo
229. Yajna Sanguhan
230. Yamini Ravindran – Attorney-at-Law
231. Yoga Selliah
232. Zahabia A. Adamaly
233. Zainab Ibrahim

Organisations

234. Affected Women’s Forum (AWF), Ampara
235. Centre for Justice and Change (CJC), Trincomalee
236. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
237. Families Relief Sri Lanka Trust
238. Hashtag Generation
239. Human Elevation Organization (HEO)
240. Human Rights Office (HRO), Kandy
241. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
242. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
243. Mannar Women’s Development Federation (MWDF)
244. Muslim Women’s Development Trust (MWDT), Puttalam
245. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization (NAFSO)
246. Northern Muslim Civil Society
247. Rural Development Foundation
248. Vallamai Travelers, Jaffna
249. Women and Media Collective (WMC)
250. Women for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka
251. Women’s Action Network (WAN)
252. Women’s Coalition for Disaster Management (WCDM), Batticaloa

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