PUBLICATIONSRepression of Dissent

Repression of Dissent in Sri Lanka : Nov-Dec 2020


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1. Executive Summary

This report provides some general trends and details of some significant incidents related to the repression of dissent in Sri Lanka in the months of November and December, based on 67 incidents mainly reported in mainstream and social media.

Context: The Supreme Court rejected the fundamental rights (FR) petitions against mandatory cremation of COVID-19 victims, while Muslims and civil society groups protested, demanding both burial and cremation. Three deaths in detention and custody were reported. Prison guards or military officials shot and killed 11 individuals and injured more than 100 more during a prison protest for health rights. Reports were published indicating that more than 50 individuals have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), subjected to harassment, and forced to sign pre-prepared statements. In late November and early December, many people in the North and East remembered the Tamil militants who died. These remembrance events faced severe restrictions. Several ex-military personnel were appointed to key civil portfolios in the government. Several protests were held in the North and East against alleged land grabbing by the military and the forest department. Conversely, in other areas, some politicians seemingly attempted to release forest lands to villagers’ use, despite assertions from other officials  that this was illegal. A court case declared the 2012 resettlement of Muslim internally displaced people (IDPs) in a forest illegal, and a former minister was held accountable and asked to pay for the cost of replantation of the forest. The controversial Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on Political Victimization submitted its report to the President. 

Updates of previous cases: The arrest of poet Ahnaf Jazeem under the PTA on 15th May came to light in November. He was arrested for allegedly promoting extremism through his poetry, after copies of his book were found at a Muslim school investigated in relation to a case against human rights lawyer Hijaaz Hizbullah. In mid-December, Hizbullah was allowed confidential access to his lawyers for the first time since his arrest in April. Former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) head Shani Abeysekera’s bail application was rejected. Subsequently, he filed a new FR petition seeking a declaration that his arrest and detention is illegal due to a lack of evidence against him. Abeysekera contracted COVID-19, and transferred to another prison a few days before the Mahara prison protests. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) intervened to provide him with proper healthcare. A contempt of court case against Ranjan Ramanayake was postponed to January. A Magistrate Court case about the assasination of Lasantha Wickramatunga was postponed to 4th June 2021. 

Statistical analysis: Thirty-five percent of the incidents were reported from the Northern and Eastern Provinces, while 14% were reported from the Western Province. The victims of 32% of the incidents were ethnic minority Tamil individuals, while only 26% of incidents were related to ethnic majority Sinhalese individuals. The majority of the victims were male. In 24% of the incidents, the victims were state officials. In 15% of incidents, the victims were journalists, while victims in another 15% were participants in memorialization events. Victims in 10% of the incidents were other protestors. One incident of abduction and 3 incidents of killings and suspicious deaths were reported. Additionally, 15% of incidents involved physical attacks, 10% involved verbal threats, 15% were related to court orders and summons, and 18% pertained to legal, institutional and policy actions. In 84% of the incidents, the alleged perpetrating party was government agents, politicians, the military or police, courts and other judicial bodies, and other state institutions and officials. 

Summary of the incidents

Repression of media workers: Three incidents of physical attacks were reported. Two of them were incidents in which journalists were attacked while reporting on non-implementation of COVID-19 health regulations. Another journalist was attacked when reporting on an alleged illegal construction in a site known for ongoing ethnic tension. A journalist was questioned by police and PCoI after former President Sirisena accused him of publishing a distorted and edited version of the interview he provided regarding the Easter Sunday bombing. A journalist in Batticaloa was questioned for reporting on military assisted settlements. During the interrogation, he was asked to provide information about the websites publishing his articles and their connections to the Tamil diaspora. Injunction orders were issued against 2 journalists banning them from participating in remembrance activities. Another journalist in Eastern province was arrested under the PTA for allegedly publishing photos of the LTTE leader who died in 2009. A Jaffna-based newspaper, Uthayan, also faced similar charges under PTA. In Northern Province, government officers were asked to disclose information if they are working as part-time employees in the media sector. In the Western Province, a gazette was issued banning government employees from providing information to the public. 

Repression of memorialization: Mahaveerar Naal (Heroes’ Day) to remember former Tamil militants was met with severe repression. Several court orders were issued banning memorial events in Jaffna, Mullaitivu, Mannar, and Trincomalee. Both COVID-19 and national security were cited as reasons for the ban. Though activists filed motions to challenge the court decisions, the courts upheld their decisions on the basis that LTTE is a proscribed organization in Sri Lanka. In Batticaloa, 19 persons were arrested for allegedly publishing birthday wishes for the deceased LTTE leader’s birthday. It was reported that police have been investigating an additional 55 persons for allegedly posting “terrorist related content.” A Tamil woman in Batticaloa demanded the release of her husband, who had been arrested for allegedly posting a photograph of the late LTTE leader on social media. She had not been provided with information about where he was detained. A local politician was interrogated for hours at a roadside in Mullaitivu. Four persons in a Tamil nationalist organization were interrogated by Mannar Police for conducting a press conference on Mahaveerar Naal. Volunteers who were clearing a cemetery for fallen LTTE militants were interrupted and their names were taken down by the Kilinochchi Police. The military pressured shop owners who had closed in observance of Mahaveerar Naal to re-open their shops. Though the court did not ban private remembrance events, police and military visited and intimidated individuals who organized such events. Police arrested a university student for lighting a lamp. 

Repressive legal, policy, and institutional actions and problematic statements: Opposition politicians and activists raised concerns after strong political allies of the current government were appointed to HRCSL. The chairperson of the controversial PCoI on Political Victimization was appointed as the chairperson of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP). A minister speaking to the media labelled 10 key human rights cases as a conspiracy to imprison intelligence officers by some police officers, NGOs, and western diplomats. As detainees have been protesting for their health rights, the Prisons commissioner made a statement that strict legal action will be taken against protesting prisoners. State counsel during a court hearing alleged that the lawyers representing victims of the Mahara prison protest were representing “NGO interests,” in an attempt to deny them justice. A newspaper published two news reports in November and December claiming that the government is planning to introduce new laws to regulate NGOs. A police spokesperson told the PCoI on the Easter Sunday Bombing that a PTA suspect should be detained for at least a year, at the discretion of a senior police officer rather than a court. The Presidential Secretariat issued gazettes making port related services an essential service, in the context of trade unions protesting a controversial business deal that privatizes the port. The mass media minister stated that all social media users should be registered. The National Associations of Sports regulations amended time to file an appeal to one week, making it almost impossible to make appeals. Several cabinet ministers stated that online cabinet meetings have been limited to the speeches of the leaders, and important decisions are made without any discussion, without allowing any dissenting opinions. As in previous months, gazettes were issued calling for the armed forces to provide more power for the military to intervene in civilian affairs. 

Repression of state employees: A minister verbally threatened the wildlife officers in a national park in Polonnaruwa for disagreeing with his opinion on allowing villagers to use forests for grazing. In Monaragala district, another forest officer complained to the Police that he was threatened by a person allegedly linked to a top politician. A week later, a group of other forest officers were threatened, physically assaulted and detained by illegal loggers. In early December, the medical doctor of Mahara Prison was subjected to fake news and a hate speech campaign, after a minister made an indirect reference accusing him of being involved in a conspiracy to cause the alleged “riot” at the prison. A COVID-19 patient spat in the face of a Public Health Inspector in Kalutara district. A coroner was threatened with death by several persons for not releasing a dead body without a PCR test. The deputy mayor in Galle allegedly threatened the medical officer of the Municipal Council, and later apologised to the medical officer. A group of persons who came to admit a patient to a hospital in Kurunegala district assaulted the security officers. A Police Constable died after being run over by a tipper truck belonging to illegal sand miners. Another police officer was hospitalized after being assaulted by a suspect. A former minister’s son was arrested for allegedly threatening a police officer who was providing security at the home of a judge. A PS member in Galle district allegedly threatened and attempted to attack the technical officer of PS, demanding payment for a business contract. A death threat was allegedly made to a village officer for reportedly not including a villager in the beneficiaries list of a government subsidy programme.

Repression of politicians: Five opposition MPs were summoned to the PCoI into Political Victimization, as retribution for a complaint to the Allegations of Bribery and Corruption Commission against the PCoI for its alleged misuse of public funds and undue influences on the justice process. An opposition MP was summoned by the CID and questioned for hours regarding custodial deaths and the security of suspects and witnesses. Since he advocated for the security of the wife of the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday attacks, social media circles were flooded with claims linking him to the Easter Sunday bombing. A local council member was assaulted by its temporary workers when he went to search for information about those workers being employed at a private garden of the PS chairperson for several days. A member of Puttalam PS was assaulted by a person who demanded to open the spillway of the tank. The chairperson of Valachchanai PS was allegedly assaulted by other members during the annual budget presentation. Others claimed the chairperson was attempting to pass the budget undemocratically by denying opposition members access to the council premises. A member of Ruwanwella PS also stated that he was abducted to prevent him from voting against the budget.

Other incidents: Authorities reportedly responded to a prisoners’ protest demanding health rights with excessive force, resulting in 11 deaths and injuries to 107 inmates. A few days later, a court order was issued against a prisoner’s rights organization preventing them from protesting the use of force, citing COVID-19. In Batticaloa, police officers threatened to force families of the disappeared into a quarantine centre if they continued to protest. In Mullaitivu, police officers attempted to disrupt a Tamil protest against state land seizures. Officers were filmed attempting to pull down banners and clashing with protestors. A pavement vendor who had protested against the Moratuwa mayor in Colombo district was arrested, and released on bail. He was accused of unlawful assembly and other charges. A village officer in Mannar district, an advocate against illegal sand mining, was murdered. A local politician of Negombo Municipal Council in Gampaha district was arrested for allegedly assaulting a villager who had refused to participate in a protest. The politician was later released on bail. 

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3. Context 

Compulsory cremation of COVID-19 infected bodies was a topic of debate for more than 6 months. While initial guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on 27th March allowed both burial and cremation, this provision was changed in the guidelines issued 31st March 2020. Later, an extraordinary gazette was issued in April ordering compulsory cremation. Subsequently, a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition was filed at the Supreme Court challenging the compulsory cremation in May. The Supreme Court rejected these petitions against COVID-19 cremation on 1st December. On 12th November, the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, writing to the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on the issue of mandatory cremation, stated that compulsory cremation could have “a negative effect on social cohesion, [and] also adversely impact the measures for containing the spread of the virus as it may discourage people to access medical care.” Much controversy occurred after the government cremated the body of a deceased 20-day-old child without the consent of the child’s Muslim parents, after an antigen test identified the deceased child as COVID-19 positive. Hundreds of people engaged in a silent protest by tying white handkerchiefs to the iron fence of the Colombo cemetery, which authorities removed. 

Participants in the ‘White handkerchief protest’: pieces of white cloth were tied to the fence of Borella cemetery in protest of forced cremations. Photo courtesy: Vikalpa 

An inmate was killed at the Moneragala Prison on 3rd November after being assaulted by jail guards. Another inmate died in Bogambara prison on 17th November in an alleged attempt to escape. On 28th December, another suspect died in police custody in an alleged attempt to escape. 

Protests were held at several prisons due to rising COVID-19 cases in overcrowded and unhealthy conditions. According to the Prison Reforms Minister, protests were held at Boosa, Bogambara, Welikada, Kalutara, Negombo and Weerawila prisons in November. On 29th November, a protest in Mahara prison was suppressed with excessive force, resulting in the deaths of 11 inmates and injuries to 107 other inmates. Since March 2020, civil society organizations have submitted letters to the President and relevant authorities demanding that they address COVID-19 related health risks in overcrowded prisons in Sri Lanka, despite the authorities claiming they did not know about the situation. Though some government politicians initially attempted to cover up the Mahara incident with a claim that the prisoners killed each other after consuming a psychiatric drug, post-mortem examinations and other evidence disproved this. All the prisoners died from being shot by the prison guards and/or riot control officers. 

Prisoners of Bogambara Prison protesting on the prison roof, demanding PCR testing,

Photo courtesy Ada Derana on 12th Nov 2020. 

In November, the Human Rights of Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), writing to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) regarding the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) detainees, stated that many detainees had complained of being pressured to provide self-incriminating statements. Alleged pressure tactics include frequent trips to police headquarters where pre-prepared statements are proffered to detainees in Sinhala for their signature, inducements such as promises of release if statements are signed, and threats such as charges based on falsehoods if they are not signed. A considerable number of PTA detainees are ethnic Tamils who are unable to understand the Sinhalese language. Sri Lanka Brief reported that 18 young people from Kattankudy, Eastern province were arrested and detained under PTA in the last week of November 2020. Arresting officers told their families that they were arrested for being connected with a social media group in India, based on information received from Indian intelligence. According Sri Lanka Brief, there has been no credible evidence to support that the suspects are linked to terrorism or any illegal activities. TNA MP Shanakiya Rasamanickam, speaking at the Parliament, stated that more than 50 Tamil youth in the North and East have been arrested. He also revealed that a 29-year-old government servant was arrested under the PTA simply for being tagged in someone else’s Facebook post. Meanwhile, an opposition MP alleged that police are planning to arrest 200 persons who are critical of the government, including journalists. 

In November, Tamil people in the Northern and Eastern areas celebrated Maaveerar Naal (the Great Heroes Day) in remembrance of the LTTE militants who died during the civil war. This was met with severe restrictions. Tamil politicians and activists in the North and East organized remembrance events. On 3rd December, speaking at the Parliament, the Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (retired) Sarath Weerasekara stated that it was a big mistake not to ban the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) after winning the war in 2009, and alleged that the TNA is the ‘political voice’ of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Meanwhile, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) published a list of complaints and information regarding missing and disappeared persons. Most of these victims disappeared during the civil war (1983-2009), while some also disappeared in the post-war period. 

On 8th December, the report of the controversial Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into Political Victimization was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The Political Victimization PCoI has been heavily criticized by human rights activists, opposition politicians and others for its undue interference into ongoing legal cases.  

There were military appointments to several key government positions. Major General (Retd.) Jagath Alwis was appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security. Major General (Retd.) Kamal Gunaratna was appointed Secretary to the state Ministry of National Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management. Major General (Retd.) W. P. Palitha Fernando was appointed secretary to the State Ministry of Wildlife Protection. Further, Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Health, and General Shavendra Silva, Commander, Sri Lankan Army and Head of the COVID – 19 Task Force, were appointed as members of the Presidential Task Force for National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19 Vaccine. Palitha Fernando, who was appointed Secretary of Wildlife Protection, is one key suspect in the infamous Avant Garde Floating Armoury case. 

Local communities in the North and East protested, accusing the government of recent seizures of their farmland for military constructions and forest conservation activities. Protests were held in Mandaitivu village in Jaffna, Venavil village in Puthukkudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu District, Mylanthanaimadu, and Periya Maadhavanai in Batticaloa district. However, it seemed that the opposite of this trend occurred in other parts of the country. Anidda newspaper reports that a circular 2020/1 issued by the Secretary of the Ministry of Wildlife and Forest conservation on 14th November giving powers to district secretaries to use ‘residual forests (අවශේෂ වනානන්තර)’ for economically or otherwise beneficial purposes has led to increased forest clearing. While ‘residual forests’ is not a legally defined term, environmentalists accuse this circular of attempting to provide lands to political supporters. This situation has made it difficult for forest officers to protect the forests that are illegally cleared by residents for chena cultivation. Meanwhile, speaking at the Parliament, C.B. Rathnayake, Minister of Wildlife and Forest Conservation, stated that at least 10 deaths of wildlife and forest conservation staff occur each year, due to illegal activities that occur in the forests. There were several incidents of alleged damage to forests with the alleged involvement of politicians, including the incident of Flood Plains National Park in Polonnaruwa, discussed in this report. Meanwhile, the case on the deforestation of Wilpattu forest for the purpose of resettlement of Muslim IDPs in 2012 was decided in November. The case was filed by an environmental group against a former minister and other respondents. The court declared that while resettlement of IDPs was necessary, it was done in violation of existing law in this instance. Therefore, the minister who was instrumental in releasing the land was asked to pay the expenses for the replantation of the forest. The judgement did not indicate anything regarding the fate of IDPs, who could again become displaced. 

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4. Updates of previous cases

The arrest of 25-year-old poet Ahnaf Jazeem, aka Mannaaramudhu Ahnaf, from Mannar, under the PTA came to light in December 2020, 6 months after his arrest. He has been detained since May 15th, 2020, after copies of his book of poetry were found at the premises of a school (named the School of Excellence) in Madurankuliya, Puttalam. This school shares funding sources with, and has thus been linked to, the Save the Pearl charity organization, in which human rights Attorney-at-Law (AAL) Hejaaz Hizbullah played a key role. The CID has claimed that this book, which they allege is an “extremist” text, strengthens the allegations against Hejaaz Hizbullah. Jazeem’s family has filed a complaint with the HRCSL regarding his arrest. As of the end of the year 2020, he has spent 7 months and 17 days (231 days) in detention. 

Poet Ahnaf Jazeem, Courtesy: Daily FT

 The Law Association for Asia & the Pacific made a statement expressing grave concern over “the arbitrary and unlawful arrest, and prolonged detention of prominent human rights lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah.” On December 5th, Hizbullah was allowed to meet with his first child, 3 weeks after the child’s birth. On December 10th, when Hizbullah’s petition requesting confidential access to his lawyers was taken up at the court of appeal, one of the two judges withdrew from hearing the petition, citing unexplained personal reasons. On 15th December, the Sri Lankan Attorney General agreed to grant Hizbullah confidential access to his lawyers for the first time since his arrest in April. Previously, he had been given access to lawyers several times (before September), only in the presence of CID officers. Hizbullah was arrested on 14th April 2020. By the end of the year 2020, he had spent 8 months and 18 days (262 days) in detention. 

Shani Abeysekera is the former head of CID of Police and a well-known detective who led major investigations into high profile legal cases involving military and police personnel and politicians who were then in opposition, but are now in power. He was arrested in July 2020 for charges of alleged fabrication of evidence in relation to the murder case of a millionainaire, in which a top police official and 5 others were sentenced to death. Abeysekera’s family believes that he is being targeted for exposing human rights abuses implicating top politicians. When he was diagnosed with COVID-19 while in detention in Mahara prison, HRCSL intervened to ensure that he had been provided with proper healthcare. Abeysekera’s bail application was refused on 9th December at the Gampaha High Court. On the 10th of December, he filed a new fundamental rights petition seeking a declaration that his arrest and remand is illegal, naming the Inspector General of Police, Director of the Colombo Crimes Division, former CID Inspector Nishantha De Silva, Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon and the Attorney General as respondents. His petition also highlighted his poor health condition, and the lack of evidence for his arrest and detention. As an interim measure, he requested an order to the IGP to provide adequate security if he is taken out of the prison for investigations, including weapons searches while in remand custody. He requested that the court order the respondents to pay compensation of 3 million rupees. 

Three suspects in the assault on two Tamil journalists in October in Mullaitivu were granted bail on 17th November. Two suspects had been granted bail previously. Tamil Guardian correspondents Shanmugam Thavaseelan and Kanapathipillai Kumanan were assaulted while reporting on illegal deforestation. The journalists had captured the suspects illegally smuggling timber on video. Additional reports were submitted to the court by the Police and the Forest Department.  The next court hearing will be on 2nd February, 2021. 

The murder case of journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga was taken before the Mount Lavinia Magistrate Udesh Ranatunga on 4th December 2020. Though officers from the CID were present in the court, there was no representation from the Attorney General’s Department. The case is postponed to the 4th of June 2021.The contempt of court case against MP Ranjan Ramanayake was taken before the Supreme Court (SC) on 17th November and 18th December. Since the presentation of evidence and oral submissions had been completed, SC decided to convene the hearing to resolve the issues arising during the trial, and to clarify certain matters which had been revealed during the examination of evidence. The court hearings were postponed a few times due to the COVID-19 situation. This case is related to a media statement made by then-Minister MP Ramanayake on August 21, 2017, claiming that the majority of judges and lawyers in the country were corrupt. Subsequently, a Buddhist monk and a former military official filed a complaint against Ramanayake accusing him of insulting and undermining the public’s trust in the judiciary, and requested that the SC try him for contempt of court and impose appropriate punishment. The SC postponed the case to the 12th of January 2021.

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5. Statistical Analysis

This analysis is based on 67 incidents. Due to the diversity of the incidents, statistical analysis is done based on the number of incidents. The detailed list of the incidents is presented in Section 7: Table of incidents. 

It is difficult to divide these incidents according to the number of victims. Some incidents included multiple individuals as victims. For example, an arrest of 19 individuals was considered a single incident. At times, it was difficult to estimate how many individuals would be affected, particularly for incidents relating to legal, policy and institutional actions. In at least two instances, two incidents relating to one victim were included as separate incidents.  

Geographical AreaNumberPercentage
Colombo (in Western Province)710%
Gampaha and Kalutara and Western Province710%
Northern and Eastern provinces2435%
Other areas1218%
Not Applicable1421%
Table 1: Geographical location of the incidents

 When geographical location is analyzed, 35% of the incidents were reported from the Northern and Eastern Provinces, former civil war zones. Western Province reported 20% of the total incidents, including 10% of incidents from Colombo district, where the country’s capital is located. Only 18% of incidents were reported from other areas in the country. Four percent of incidents were reported online. Twenty-one percent of incidents were considered not applicable, as they were legal, policy, and/or institutional actions affecting more than one specific geographical area in the country. 

Ethnicity of the victimNumberPercentage
Incidents impacting more than one ethnic group1725%
Ethnicity not mentioned710%
Table 2: Ethnicity of the victims

When the incidents were analyzed in relation to the ethnicity of the victims, the highest percentage (33%) of incidents were related to the ethnic minority Tamil individuals. Second, 27% of incidents were related to ethnic majority Sinhalese individuals. Third, 4% of incidents were related to Muslim individuals. These figures indicate a large deviation from the general ethnic composition in the country. This shows systematic discrimination and targeting of the country’s ethnic minorities, especially of Tamil individuals. 25% of incidents were related to victims of more than one ethnic group, while in 10% of incidents, we were unable to find the ethnicity of the victims. 

Gender of the victimNumberPercentage
Not Applicable46%
Not mentioned57%
Table 3: Gender of the victims

When the incidents were analyzed in relation to the gender of the victims, the majority (49%) of the victims were male. Only 3% of the incidents related to women. In 6% of incidents, gender was considered not applicable, as the incidents involved institutions or organizations. In 7% of incidents, we were unable to find the gender of the victim(s). 

Type of victimsNumberPercentage
Victims and witnesses46%
Participants in memorialization events1015%
Other protestors710%
Civil society organizations and activists34%
State officials1522%
Table 4: Category of victims

Fifteen percent of incidents were related to repression of journalists and media workers. Another 15% of incidents involved repression of memorialization events organized in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Two incidents (3%) reported above under the category of victims and witnesses included other protests conducted by victims in the North and East. Ten percent of incidents involving other protestors were also reported. They were mainly from the Western Province, related to prisoners rights, a labour strike in the port, and a local vendor’s protest. Therefore, at least 28% of incidents were related to freedom of assembly. 

In another 22% of incidents, victims were state officials. These mainly included state officials who faced reprisals at the hands of politicians and provincial level state employees prohibited from issuing information to the media, as well as police, health officials, and forest officers who faced physical attacks. 

In 13% of incidents, victims were politicians. Victims in 4% of incidents were civil society organizations and activists. Thirteen percent of incidents involved other types of victims. 

Type of violationNumberPercentage
Killings and suspicious deaths34%
Physical attacks1015%
Attempted physical attack23%
Verbal threats710%
Fake news and hate speech23%
Court orders or summons 1015%
Military/police questioning57%
Legal, institutional, and policy actions1116%
Problematic statements57%
Table 5: Types of violations 

There was one incident (1%) of an alleged abduction, while 4% of incidents (3 incidents) were related to killings and suspicious deaths. Among the killings, 11 prisoners were shot dead during a protest demanding their health rights, one environmental rights advocate against illegal sand mining was killed in a suspicious manner, and a police officer was killed by being run over by a truck belonging to illegal sand miners. Sixteen percent of incidents (11 incidents) involved physical attacks and attempted physical attacks. Victims of these incidents included 3 journalists, 5 state officials, 3 local politicians and 1 person who refused to participate in a protest. Verbal threats were made in 7 incidents (10%). Victims in 6 out of these 7 incidents were state officials. In 4 of these incidents, the alleged verbal threats were made by politicians. 

There were 4 incidents (6%) of arrests. Three out of these four were related to memorialization, and allegedly publishing content in support of “terrorism.” In one incident, 19 individuals were arrested. 

Fifteen percent of incidents were related to court orders and summons. This included 8 court orders and 2 summons by PCoIs. Seven out of eight court orders were related to memorialization.   

Police or military interrogated individuals in 5 incidents (7%). These included 2 journalists and 2 opposition politicians. There were 5 incidents related to intimidation. 4 of these incidents were related to intimidating participants of memorialization events by police and military. 

There were also 12 incidents (15%) of legal, institutional, and policy actions, and 5 incidents (7%) of problematic statements by politicians and key state officials that could result in possible repression of dissent. 

Alleged Responsible partyNumberPercentage
President or central government1015%
Other Politicians1218%
Military or Police1725%
Judicial bodies34%
Other Government Institutions and officers46%
Illegal business persons34%
Table 6: Alleged responsible party to the incidents

As in previous reports, the alleged responsible party in the majority of incidents were government institutions, officials, politicians, and other government agents. The President and/or the central government were allegedly responsible for 15% of incidents, while other politicians were responsible for 18% of incidents. 

In 25% of incidents, the alleged responsible party were military or police. Courts and other judiciary bodies were allegedly responsible for 14% of incidents. In 6% of incidents, other government institutions and officials were responsible. 

Four percent of incidents were related to people conducting illegal businesses, particularly ones that cause damage to the environment such as illegal sand mining and forest logging.  In ten percent of incidents, other parties were responsible. In 1 incident, the alleged responsible party is unknown, though a nationalist group in the North was accused. 

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