Sri Lanka member of parliament Mano Ganesan was honored at ceremonies at the U.S. State Department. Mr. Ganesan was named first runner-up for the U.S. State Department’s 2007 Freedom Defenders Award. The award goes to a foreign individual or non-governmental organization that has shown exceptional courage and leadership in the defense of human rights. This year’s award recipient was the non-governmental organization Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Mr. Ganesan has been in the forefront of those seeking an end to abductions, disappearances and extrajudicial killings that afflict Sri Lanka. He has demonstrated commendable integrity in combating the climate of impunity for human rights violators. In 2006, he founded the Civil Monitoring Commission on Extra-Judicial Killings and Disappearances. Relatives of those abducted, disappeared, and killed often turn first to the Civil Monitoring Commission to try to obtain information on their loved ones or secure their release. “I am speaking against injustice,” said Mr. Ganesan, “and my cause is to achieve human dignity and human rights for the people of this country who are placed in a deliberate and unfortunate situation in an extremist political climate.”
In its latest human rights report on Sri Lanka, the U.S. State Department said that human rights organizations and other credible sources “alleged that paramilitary groups, sometimes with the aid of government security forces, engaged in targeted killings of political opponents and civilians.” The report also said that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers, “engaged in politically motivated killings; suicide attacks; disappearances; torture” and other abuses.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice the U.S. stands with those who stand up for human rights:
“Today, on every continent, men and women are working, often against great odds and at great risk, to secure their fundamental rights. Regrettably, some governments have responded to growing demands for personal and political freedom not by accepting their obligations to their people, but by oppressing those seeking to exercise fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.”
“If the great promise of the U-N Universal Declaration of Human Rights is to be fulfilled,” said Ms. Rice, “the United States and other democratic nations must align ourselves with those who defend human rights and advocate for peaceful democratic change.”