Lawyers in the northern and eastern provinces held peaceful protests yesterday (03) to demand justice for former Mullaitivu magistrate T. Saravanaraja.
In the north, lawyers representing all five districts gathered at the Mullaitivu court complex and marched to the heart of the town and back, carrying placards that called for an independent investigations into death threats received by Saravanaraja.
Policemen were seen taking pictures and videoing the protestors.
Saravanaraja, in his resignation letter to the Judicial Services Commission, cited threats to his life for his decision to quit.
Pressurized into reversing verdicts
According to Tamil language media, the attorney general’s department had pressurized him to reverse an order to suspend construction at Kurundi Vihara in Mullaitivu.
Colombo-based media refuted it, saying a meeting had taken place only to discuss a request by Saravanaraja to the AG to represent him in three petitions filed against him.
Reports also said he has gone abroad.
Public security minister Tiran Alles has ordered the CID to investigate the matter.
Senarath Wanigasinghe of the Vavuniya Lawyers Association condemned the intimidations against the former magistrate.
Lawyers from all communities and all provinces are getting together against this interference by politicians for petty political gain and the legal rights of all citizens.
MP Sarath Weerasekara, in speeches to parliament, has challenged Saravanaraja’s rulings and insinuated he was suffering from a mental illness.
Plan for human chain
Similar protests by lawyers took place in the eastern province, with those unable to take part staying away from their duties.
Head of the Vavuniya Lawyers Association Anton Punidanayagam said the threats implied what would happen if the minorities opposed the majority.
In a show of continuing protests, lawyers in the north will wear black facemasks for two weeks when on duty, he said.
Meanwhile, seven Tamil parties are organizing a human chain from Maradanarumadam to Jaffana town today to extend their support to the ex-magistrate.
Tamil politicians have denounced the threats to Saravanaraja, with MP Sivagnanam Sritharan urging international attention to this threat to the judiciary.
MP Mano Ganeshan said the incident has challenged the supremacy of law in the country.
TNPF media spokesman Kanagaratnam Sugash said it was an extension of the threats to lawyers seeking justice for the Tamil people.
TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran told a meeting on 01 October that this was the first instance in which a judge has resigned after making an open statement.
Former MP C. Sivamohan said it was shameful to see the government keeping silent in the face of threats to a magistrate for being a Tamil.
On one occasion, MP Weerasekara told the House that he should remind Saravanaraja that Sri Lanka was a Buddhist country.
Former councilor Thurairasa Raviharan said political interference and harassment of the judiciary had forced Saravanaraja to flee the country.