SAR appeals to SL President to locate disappeared Vice-chancellor Raveendranath

[TamilNet, Saturday, 23 December 2006, 22:40 GMT]
Scholars At Risk (SAR), an international network of universities and colleges dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion and expression -freedoms essential to any healthy society, operating from New York, has written Thursday to the President of Sri Lanka expressing concern about the disappearance of Professor S. Raveendranath, Vice Chancellor of Eastern University, reported missing since Friday 15 December.

The following is the letter written to President Mahinda Rajapakse by Robert J. Quinn, the Director of Sholars At Risk, New York:

Dear President Rajapakse: I am writing on behalf of Scholars at Risk to express urgent concern about the disappearance of Professor S. Raveendranath, Vice Chancellor of Eastern University. Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of universities and colleges dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion and expression -freedoms essential to any healthy society. Through our network, SAR arranges temporary academic positions in third countries for scholars threatened or persecuted at home. In especially urgent cases, we intervene on behalf of scholars still under threat in their home countries. According to published news reports, Professor Raveendranath disappeared Friday, December 15, after leaving a meeting in central Columbo and has not been seen since. We are greatly concerned about his physical well being, not least because in September of this year unidentified gunmen demanding Prof. Raveendranath's resignation kidnapped the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Eastern University, Professor Bala Sugmar, and because in the months thereafter Professor Raveendranath received repeated death threats demanding he abandon his post.

We therefore respectfully urge you to exhaust every available resource to locate Dr. Raveendranath and to ensure his safe and timely return to the university. Professor Raveendranath's sudden disappearance not only raises the most urgent concerns for his physical well being, but is a significant blow to the Sri Lankan higher education sector in which he has played a leading role. Recognizing the courage and resolve of Sri Lankan universities and education professionals in the face of war and natural disaster, we request that you use the current situation as an opportunity to improve protection for higher education institutions throughout the country-for leadership, scholars, students and staff alike-both by dedicating the necessary resources to ensure the security of campuses and personnel, and by issuing firm condemnations of attacks on higher education institutions and affirmations of the importance of academic freedom of scholarship in Sri Lankan society. We appreciate your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely, Robert J. Quinn Director SCHOLARS AT RISK N E T W O R K

 

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