Liveblog: Sri Lanka Case Hearing - The People's Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists

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People's Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists

The case of Lasantha Wickrematunge will be heard at The People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists, organised in partnership with the Center for Justice and Accountability. The hearing is taking place on 12 and 13 May in The Hague from 09:00-17:00 on both days. The livestream can be followed below.

Leon W
Welcoming Remarks by Leon Willems

“The silence of witnesses too afraid to come forward, the fear of retaliation- present a stark example of how devastating the repression in Sri Lanka has been. Lets hope that current events will also change that and empower people to make their voices heard for justice.”
“I continue to look to the international community and now turn to The People's Tribunal to give our loved ones and our families the justice they deserve."
Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of Lasantha Wickrematunge.
Ahimsa Wickrematunge
Hearing Center
The Prosecutor of the People's Tribunal, Almudena Bernabeu, Joint Head, Guernica 37 Justice Chambers introduces the Case Hearing.

"We also pay tribute to the Al Jazeera journalist and the three Mexican journalists who were killed this week, and who have fallen in the exercise of their profession."
B Abeywardane
Second witness testimony by Bashana Abeywardane.

"As a consequence of a lack of sensitivity and knowledge of basic economics, as a consequence of total denial of human rights and tremendous violations of human rights, Rajapaksa's regime has brought this country to its knees." - Dr.Paikasothy Sarvanamuttu, testifying on Day 1 of the Sri Lanka Case Hearnig of The People's Tribunal.

 

P Sarvanamuttu
The first witness highlighted the political context & cycles of past violence.
B Ayewardane
The second witness of the Case Hearing: "The policy of total impunity is actually the elephant in the room- as long as you don’t deal with past crimes - by leaving the perpetrators free, they are sending a clear message to the others."
S Butler
The third witness discussed the state of press freedom in Sri Lanka, mentioning that between 2005-2015: 10 journalists were murdered in Sri Lanka.
Catherine Amirfar
Witness testimony delivered by the final speaker of today, Catherine Amirfar, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.

 

“First it’s for countries to acknowledge that we are in crisis, and that the independence of the media is part & parcel of a society that we endeavour to live in. To talk about it through efforts such as The People's Tribunal and making sure that the world knows what is happening around the world. Second, to think broadly about national and regional accountability mechanisms because it is not possible to achieve domestic accountability."

- Catherine Amirfar, Member of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom

 

Day 2 of the People's Tribunal takes place on Friday 13 May, on the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.

Sandhya's testimony
The first witness testimony:

"I consider myself to be a creative protester and i have sacrificed myself to achieve a goal: I seek justice and truth. I am a woman who seeks justice and truth. I am a creative protester, because throughout the acts of protests, i incorporated different cultural and religious aspects into my struggle in order to portray the pain, suffering and vengeance." - Sandhya Eknaligoda on the dissapearance of her husband Prageeth Eknaligoda.

Sandhya Eknaligoda
"I demand justice - until i find justice in Sri Lanka, I will not let my hair grow again. I am dressed in black and i am wearing a shawl this will be what i wear until i achieve justice."

"The abduction of my husband and the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge are similar in that they were both responsible journalists. The duty and responsibility of any journalist should be bringing to light all crimes and corruption that occur in society. The entire society has a right to know. There has to be free flow of information in our society and these journalists were fulfilling their duties. And the Rajapaksa's destroyed that." 

"I feel that I am the most harassed woman in the country." 

- Sandhya Eknaligoda provides her witness testimony.

Dilrukshi Handunnetti testifying at the Case Hearing
"It was an honour to work with Lasantha Wicrkrematunge at Sunday Leader." Dilrukshi Handunnetti testifies at the Sri Lanka Case Hearing.

"The Sunday Leader was a place where there was space for divergent viewpoints. It was also published during an extremely difficult period in Sri Lankan history. But no other Southern newsroom had gone through what the Sunday Leader had gone through - not only the loss of property - but thinking about the human cost the Sunday Leader had to bear." -The second witness of Day 2 of the Sri Lanka Case Hearing: Dilrukshi Handunnetti.

 

Dilrukshi Handunnetti
“This country belongs to 22 million people, and it doesn’t belong just to some people. Its’ nobody’s private property and it's everybody’s right to practice their craft." - The second witness of Day 2 of the Sri Lanka Case Hearing: Dilrukshi Handunnetti.

 

"The Sunday Leader was a place where there was space for divergent viewpoints. It was also published during an extremely difficult period in Sri Lankan history. As we all know there were regular threats and attacks. But no other Southern newsroom had gone through what the Sunday Leader had gone through - not only the loss of property, but thinking about the human cost the Sunday Leader had to bear."  -  The second witness of Day 2 of the Sri Lanka Case Hearing: Dilrukshi Handunnetti.

 

Nishantha Silva
Witness Nishantha Silva, former Inspector of Police attached to the Criminal Investigation Department provides testimony on the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.


A cell tower analysis was conducted, in which individuals who were tracking journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge at the crime scene were matched with SIM cards used by individuals identified as members of the Tripoli platoon, commanded by current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fell.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was Secretary of Defense at the time of Lasantha's assassination, and therefore implicated in the assassination - in the US civil suit brought by the Tribunal's co-organizer (discontinued to date due to his immunity as head of state).
Robert Knight- Cell site analyst
Cell site analyst Robert Knight testifies on the data collected by the previous witness, Nishantha Silva, on the investigation into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.
The Tribunal "coincides with the historic peoples’ protests in Sri Lanka, which have led to the resignation of Prime Minister (and former President) Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier this week."
.
Journalist Ruki Fernando, the Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka
The Hague Tribunal; Protests in Sri Lanka and Challenging impunity for crimes against journalists

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Safer World For The Truth