(text of letter sent by a group of Catholic Clergy to President Mahinda Rajapaksa)
We, the members of the Christian Solidarity Movement, are distressed by the media reports that Dr. Nirmal R. Devasiri of FUTA has been intimidated by a group of unknown men who have arrived by a jeep at his neighbourhood to inquire his whereabouts, claiming to be from the defense ministry.
Having witnessed the recent events of abduction, disappearances and shooting, this is a clear indication to us that Dr. Nirmal Ranjith’s life is in imminent danger.
We have seen enough of blood being shed on our soil and the sufferings of families due to loss of their dear ones. If we continue this kind of behavior, world outside will begin to believe that Sri Lanka has not evolved from a culture of barbarism and that great religions of Asia have had no influence over us.
The intimidatory beahviour on the part of those “unknown” men, we believe, indicates an intolerance of Dr Ranjith’s freedom to express his opinion, his involvement in the campaign against the privatization of university education and his trade union activities.
The free expression of thoughts and freedom for involvement in trade union activities is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution in Sri Lanka and human rights charter of the United Nations.
If the government is moving on the right path, needless to say, it ought to recognize the contribution of the academics of our universities, however unpalatable their ideas might be to some of our politicians. Moreover, it ought to further promote the freedom of thought and expression which are fundamental principles of democracy and good governance. The failure in this regard only indicates the Government’s aversion to democracy and good governance.
Therefore, we who met on the 25th resolved to kindly request your Excellency as the Executive President of our country to hold an impartial inquiry into this matter as reported in the media and ensure security to Dr. Nirmal Rajith and respect his role as an academic and his freedom to carry out his duties as a free citizen and as a trade union leader.
Fr. Terrence Fernando.
Fr. Sherard Jayawardene.
Fr. Anton Jayananda
Fr. Bernard Rehart.
Fr. Nandana Saparamadu.
Sr. Helen Fernando.
Sr. Noel Christine Fernando.
Sr. Angela Fernando.
Sr. Deepa Fernando.
Sr. Kathleen Fleming.
Mr. Mahinda Namal.
Mr. Nimal Perera.
Mr. Ralston Weiman.
Ms. Melani Manel Perera.
Mr. Lal Fernando.
Mr. Roshani Fernandopulle