South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) expresses great concern over the threat made to Dr. Nimalka Fernando’s life. This threat was made on the radio programme titled “Rata Yana Atha” broadcasted on a Commercial Channel of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, a State owned media channel.

It is deplorable that a State owned media channel would encourage such threats on their programme. Nimalka has always been a fierce defender of human rights and a strong critic of those who violate them. Her continuous criticism of the Government of Sri Lanka has made her a foe to these actors.

Nimalka has always remained an unrelenting voice in support of human rights and democracy and she continues to be, even in the face of such threats to her life. SAHR admires her continuing efforts and stands together with her in defence of the rights of people in Sri Lanka and throughout South Asia.

Human rights defenders, sometimes under great threat, continue to struggle for a culture of tolerance, peace, respect for pluralistic traditions and gender equality. SAHR notes that the shrinking of democratic space and the suppression of contrarian voices is rife in South Asia, especially in Sri Lanka where human rights defenders who speak out against injustice continue to be subjected to threats, harassments, attacks and even death.

Therefore, SAHR strongly encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate these threats against one of the country’s strongest and most vocal human rights defenders. Freedom of speech and expression is one of the cornerstones of a democracy, and people should be able to express their opinions and criticisms of the State without endangering their lives.

On behalf of the Bureau and members of South Asians for Human Rights,

Hina Jilani

Chairperson