Human rights group quits in protest

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Peace Brigades International (PBI), an international human rights organisation active in Sri Lanka, has withdrawn its services from the country after the Sri Lankan Government imposed conditions which it could not meet, said human rights activists in Colombo.

PBI, which had a relatively small and low key, but effective presence in Colombo as well as in Batticaloa, has been critical of some of the activities of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the Sri Lankan government, especially on matters of human rights and humanitarian relief.

It publishes a newsletter and has its own web site, where its reports about the situation in Sri Lanka appeared regularly.

Among the conditions imposed by the Sri Lankan Government, was that its delegation in Sri Lanka should be limited to two persons.

PBI's other problem was that most of the volunteers, who were from overseas, functioned in Sri Lanka on tourist visas to circumvent the problem of obtaining visas on the basis of human rights workers.

The Sri Lankan Government has often refused to extend their tourist visas, leading to a fast turnover of PBI personnel in Sri Lanka.

The immediate cause of their withdrawal however is the demand by the Sri Lankan Government that they reveal their sources of information, said sources in Colombo.

This, the PBI had refused to comply with.

PBI, an international organisation, comprises volunteers who serve in conflict zones around the world.

There most important function is protecting individuals endangered by institutionalised terror, such as from governments, by offering physical protection.

PBI volunteers do not leave the side of the person who is in danger.

Among the many acts of protection they gave persons in Sri Lanka, was to Bryn Wolfe, former Executive Secretary of the NGO Forum on Sri Lankan, while he was in Sri Lanka to consult NGOs working with the Forum.

Mr. Wolfe who was under surveillance in by the police in Colombo and repeatedly interrogated by them, was eventually escorted to the airport by PBI.

The PBI functioned in Batticaloa, and has provided protection to survivors of massacres carried out by the Sri Lankan security forces.

"This is another attempt at stifling human rights in this country," said a human rights activist who did not want to named.

Related web site:

Peace Brigades International


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