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LIBRARY ASIA AND THE PACIFIC SOUTH ASIA SRI LANKA
      

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"Disappearance"/fear of torture or ill-treatment/health concern: Professor Sivasubramanium Raveendranath (m)

PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 37/035/2006
20 December 2006

UA 336/06 "Disappearance"/fear of torture or ill-treatment/health
concern

SRI LANKA Professor Sivasubramanium Raveendranath (m), aged 55,
Vice-Chancellor,
Eastern University, Batticaloa

Professor Sivasubramanium Raveendranath, the Vice-Chancellor of Eastern
University, was reportedly abducted while at a conference in the capital,
Colombo, on 15 December. Since he was in an area tightly controlled by the
military, it seems likely that his captors are an armed group operating with
the tacit support of the security forces. He is at risk of torture. He suffers
from heart disease, putting his life in greater danger.

Sivasubramanium Raveendranath had been attending a conference of the Sri Lankan
Association for the Advancement of Science and was reportedly last seen by
colleagues during the tea break between sessions.

On 20 September, gunmen abducted his colleague, the Dean of the Arts Faculty of
the Eastern University, Dr Bala Sugamar. It is widely reported that the
kidnappers had demanded the immediate resignation of Sivasubramanium
Raveendranath in return for Dr Bala Sugamar’s release. Sivasubramanium
Raveendranath handed in his resignation and Dr Bala Sugamar was released soon
after. The University did not accept his resignation, on the grounds that it
was a presidential appointment, but he had not yet felt it was safe enough for
him to return to the university, and had been carrying out his duties from
Colombo. His family have said that Sivasubramanium Raveendranath had received
several threats, thoughit is not clear from whom.

According to the head of a local NGO, Eastern University has a reputation for
violent internal politics, mostly about control of the university. Many faculty
members have resigned, gone missing or have been killed in the past. Some
people within the university have claimed that Professor Raveendranath is a
supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but his family
maintain that he is entirely apolitical.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated dramatically in recent
months. Fighting between the security forces and the LTTE has increased since
April, and this has led to scores of civilians being killed or injured, and
forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes. Neither the security
forces nor the LTTE appear to be taking adequate precautions to ensure that
civilian are not killed or injured by military actions. Despite the escalating
violence, both sides maintain that they are committed to a 2002 ceasefire
agreement. Over two decades of conflict in Sri Lanka have claimed the lives of
more than 65,000 people, the majority of them civilians.

In recent months in areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, there have been
reports of a number of people "disappearing" or being abducted by the security
forces or armed groups. Such people are often called or taken in "for
questioning" and held incommunicado. No receipts or records of their detention
are made available, and the official mechanisms for reporting such events, such
as through the National Human Rights Commission, are often unable to find where
the missing people are. Anyone held this way is in clear danger of torture or
ill treatment.

 

      

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