A leading anti-disappearance Tamil activist from eastern Sri Lanka had been hit and run by a group of men suspected to be affiliated with state paramilitaries.

Three men riding a motorcycle had knocked down the Batticaloa vice president of Families of the Disappeared Association along with her daughter off their scooter on the way back from a funeral in the weekend.

The mother of three, receiving treatment with her daughter at the Batticaloa general hospital for fractures to their limbs fears that the attack was carried out by paramilitaries operating in the east who are accused of hundreds of enforced disappearances.

One of them were seized by bystanders had been handed over to the Aiththamalai police station. Two others who rode with him have managed to escape.

'Premeditated attack'

“What the person who was caught told, mentioning a name, is that he was a machan (cousin) of someone who used to work as a Sri Lanka paramilitary,” Amalraj Amalanayagi told journalists in Batticaloa.

“I believe this is a premeditated attack. I think that their attempt was to kill.”

However, the rider had only been booked for traffic offences.

Navaratnam Suresh Kumar produced before the Kaluwanchikudi Magistrate had been granted bail and ordered to appear in court on 11 September.

The rights activist strongly suspects that the hit and run incident was not a mere accident, but a premeditated attack in retaliation to a statement by her implicating paramilitaries for enforced disappearances.

“Addressing the media in Kalladi on the 27th I told there is no way that we can inquire from paramilitaries about what happened to our loved ones who have been victims of enforced disappearances,” Amalanayagi who had been searching for her missing husband for many years told journalists on Monday. 

PLOTE Mohan

Local journalists have heard suspect Suresh Kumar who offered money to victims to give up taking legal action, referring to the notorious paramilitary PLOTE Mohan as his relative.

PLOTE Mohan, whose real name is Kandiah Yogarasa, was an Army paramilitary in the east. He was shot dead in Colombo on 31 Jul 2004, by suspected Tamil Tiger gunman.

plote mohan
Paramilitary operative K. Yoharasa alias PLOTE Mohan gunned down by suspected Tamil Tiger gunmen in July 2004 - Colombo, Sri Lanka
In addition to lodging a complaint with the police, Amalraj Amalanayagi has petitioned the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission as well.

She told journalists that the attack came after a series of threats and surveillance.

The UN had also recorded recent incidents of state Intelligence units that carry out surveillance of protests and other activities, and threats and harassment of human rights defenders.

“Whether people demand the return of their lands, information on their disappeared family members, better living and working conditions, all seem to undergo some low but regular level of surveillance which includes questioning, intimidating phone calls and taking of photos and videos,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voulé, ending his week-long visit to Sri Lanka in July.

Surveillance seems to be particularly prevalent in the North and East, he noted.