HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER MR G G PONNAMBALAM, WAS ASSASSINATED TODAY

Place: - | Date: 20000100

Mr G.G. Ponnambalam Jn. (known to everyone as Kumar Ponnambalam) was involved in human rights for many years. He was a leading lawyer in Colombo. Gunmen assassinated him in cold blood this morning in Wellawatta in Colombo. The post-mortum carried out tonight revealed five revolver shots behind his right eye and one bullet in his shoulder.

Mr G.G. Ponnambalam Jn. (known to everyone as Kumar Ponnambalam) was involved in human rights for many years. He was a leading lawyer in Colombo. Gunmen assassinated him in cold blood this morning in Wellawatta in Colombo. The post-mortum carried out tonight revealed five revolver shots behind his right eye and one bullet in his shoulder.

According to his family members and friends, Mr Ponnambalam had been contacted by a Sinhalese person in recent times, who had arranged to meet him today. He had told the person that he would be at home and would not be going to the Courts, so the person came to his home at 10.00am this morning. They both went to Wellawatta. He never returned.

Mr Ponnambalam, as a prominent expert and able criminal lawyer defended thousands of Tamil people, over many years, who suffered gross and systematic violations of human rights at the hands of the Sri Lankan government security forces – the Special Task Force, the Army and the Navy. The Attorney-General Department has stated that Mr Ponnammbalam held 98% of the cases which went through their department, which is virtually equivalent to the entire number of cases fought by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Ponnambalam filed many reports on important human rights cases. These include the internationally known case of gang-rape and murder of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy which led to the eventual revelation of the eighteen mass graves, including Chemmani, in the Jaffna Peninsula.

His work became a challenge to the Sri Lankan government, which with its record of massive human rights violations amounting to genocide, met in him a force to be reckoned with.

Mr Ponnambalam spoke out for human rights also in the international arena. He denounced the torture, arbitrary detention, disappearances and extra-judicial killings of Tamil people at the hands of the Sri Lankan government’s security forces, in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1997 and 1999. Amongst many important international bodies, he addressed members of the European Parliament in Brusselles and the Royal Institute in London-U.K

In December 1998 Mr Ponnambalam was threatened with being arrested by the present government of Sri Lanka. The Tamil Centre for Human Rights brought this to the notice of human rights organisations and international bodies. Eventually, he was interrogated by the Sri Lankan Police in his home.

Everyone knew that Mr Ponnambalam had been facing a threat by the Chandrika overnment for a long time. On certain International platforms Mr Ponnambalam stated openly that President Chandrika Kumaratunga was “after his blood”. Recently he stated that the government was “looking for his blood”. Today this has become a tragic and sad reality.

Mr Ponnambalam was also a devoted husband and father. He leaves his wife Dr. Yogi, his daughter Mrinalini aged 27 and his son Gajendrakumar aged 26.

Mr Ponnambalam was a brave and tireless champion of civil and political rights, and fundamental human rights. He was not afraid to speak out on Human rights and this has cost him his life. His assassination marks a tragic loss for all who strive for the cause of justice and human rights.

We appeal to all individuals and human rights organisations to strongly condemn this callous and heinous act.

Head Office: Centre Tamoul de Droits de l’Homme - CTDH - TCHR 9, Rue des Peupliers, 95140 Garges les Gonesse, FRANCE email: tchrgs@hotmail.com

Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR 88, College Road, Manchester - M16 8FH, UNITED KINGDOM. email: tchrdip@hotmail.com


LTTE ACCUSES SRI LANKA GOVERNMENT OF THE MURDER OF KUMAR PONNAMBALAM

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) wishes to express its deep shock and profound grief over the brutal killing of Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam, a courageous Tamil leader who fearlessly exposed the hypocrisy of the Sinhala state and audaciously championed the cause of the Tamil nation.

We accuse the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil quisling groups of masterminding and executing this heinous crime to silence a brave, daring voice of reason that defended the rights of the Tamils. Mr. Ponnambalam's sudden death is a great and irreparable loss to the Tamils, a monumental tragedy that has befallen the Tamil nation at a critical historical time.

Faced with constant threat to his life and property, Mr. Ponnambalam lived in the heart of the Sri Lankan capital and boldly challenged his racist adversaries. His speeches and writings, which touched on extremely controversial issues, expressed its truthfullness, genuiness, uprightness and indomitable spirit for justice. He pleaded for the rights and liberties of thousands of innocent Tamils in Colombo who were subjected to constant persecution at the hands of the tyrannical Sinhala state. He also voiced for the Tamils rights at international forums.

Mr. Ponnambalam was the only Tamil leader who openly and fearlessly supported the armed freedom struggle of the Liberation Tigers. He endorsed the policy of the LTTE as the authentic political project based on the right to self-determination of the Tamil people. By his gallant and heroic life in advancing the legitimate cause of the Tamils amidst all dangers, Mr. Ponnambalam has earned the respect and admiration of his people as a true Tamil patriot.

(Released by the International Secretariat of LTTE, 211 Katherine Road, London E6 1BU, United Kingdom. Tel:0181- 503 4294)