Wednesday, 14 November 2018 14:57

Civil Society Assesses its Situation

Several leaders of civil society organisations met at the Methodist Church Headquarters in Colombo to assess their situation. Bishop Asiri Perera said the situation in the country had deteriorated since they had last met several months ago. The country’s leaders were less interested in good governance than in who should rule. There were rumours of snap elections. Those against peace and reconciliation were vociferous.

In the discussion that ensued it was pointed out that:

  • When people got back their land from the military, it had been bulldozed. This was a policy and not an isolated event. These were problems where civil society could step in to mitigate.
  • In the last month surveillance had increased. Military intelligence agencies that were in the background in the North and East were now doing their surveillance overtly.
  • There was an attack on a human rights defender in Jaffna.
  • Those who went to Geneva to attend sessions of the Human Rights Council were questioned at the airport on their return.

It was agreed that there were fresh challenges ahead for civil society. It was decided to work together on a number of fronts including brainstorming about the options, identifying a common action plan that could keep groups together and continuing to lobby at the national and international levels.