South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

By Abdul H. Azeez

Pattani Razeek, a human rights worker, disappeared on February 11, 2010 on a visit to Polonnaruwa. Now, 500 days after his disappearance, friends and family have still not seen or heard anything.

Razeek was also on the board of trustees of The Community Trust Fund (CTF), an NGO working widely in Puttalam and other areas of the country on issues concerning internally displaced people (IDPs).

It is believed that Razeek’s connection to CTF was the reason for his disappearance. On the day he disappeared, Razeek travelled to Polonnaruwa with CTF staff, where he met with a group of persons parked near the Jumma Mosque in Kaduruwela. He was last seen getting into a van with those persons, having informed his colleagues that he was travelling to the Eastern town of Valaichchenai.  Razeek has not been seen or heard from since.  Shortly afterwards, his family received a few calls from Razeek’s mobile phone number, demanding large amounts of money to secure his release. The calls however, stopped soon after.

His family and CTF lodged several complaints with the local police following his disappearance. The police filed a B report in the Puttalam Magistrate Court, on February 16, 2010, naming Shahabdeen Nowshaadh, a former CTF employee, as the chief suspect in Razeek’s disappearance.  There is evidence linking Nowshaadh to several ransom calls made to Razeek’s family, on his mobile number, after his disappearance.  An ongoing court case has its next hearing on July 6. However, little headway has been made in apprehending the suspect. Razeek’s family maintains that the failure to take action against Nowshaad is because of his close association with an influential government Minister from the area. In his anticipatory bail application to the Puttalam Magistrates Court in June 2010, Nowshaadh claimed to be associated with Industries and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, submitting that his arrest would cause irreparable harm to the Minister’s reputation and work. However, when The Sunday Leader contacted Bathiudeen with regard to the matter he denied that Nowshadh was currently working for him and said that his name was being used without his knowledge.

June 25, 2011 marked 500 days since the disappearance of Pattani Razeek. Speaking to The Sunday Leader his son Rishkhan Razeek said that family and friends are still fighting for Razeek. “A signature collection is taking place and we hope to have about 500 signatures from eminent people ready for the next court hearing.”

In the past week there has been some response to the Razeek family’s complaint to the Human Rights Commission. They were informed that the investigation has been handed over to the CID. A HRC hearing is scheduled for July 4.

Source: The Sunday Leader- 03.07.2011