Demand Justice for Sri Lanka's Mirusuvil Massacre Victims

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, presidential pardon granted to Sri Lankan Army Sergeant found guilty of massacre.

On 26 March 2020, Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa released Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka. Sergeant Rathnayaka was convicted for the killings of eight civilians, including three children. This decision taken by the President to pardon the Sergeant overrules the verdict passed by the High Court of Colombo and the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and is a major setback to justice for the victims of the decades-long internal conflict.

On 19 December 2000, a group of internally displaced Tamils cycled from their temporary residence to visit their houses in Mirusuvil, Jaffna. Five-year-old Prasad and his father, Wilvarasa were a part of this group. On their way back, they were stopped by some soldiers, one of whom was Sergeant Rathnayaka. They were questioned and assaulted by the soldiers. Eight of them - including Prasad and his father - were murdered. Maheshwaran, the only survivor from the group, managed to escape and served as a witness for the case.

In June 2015, after a 13-year-long trial, the Colombo High Court sentenced army officer Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka to death after he was found guilty on 17 counts, including the murder of eight people in December 2000. This decision was further upheld by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 2019, after Rathnayaka appealed the conviction.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally, in all cases and under any circumstances, but has concerns about the arbitrary decision taken by the Sri Lankan Government in granting pardon to perpetrators of war crimes.

The decision taken by the President of Sri Lanka violates Sri Lanka’s international obligation to hold accountable those responsible for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations and to hand down justice that is commensurate with the crimes committed, without recourse to the death penalty.

Help demand justice for the Mirusuvil massacre victims and their families - Sign the petition urging Sri Lanka’s President to revoke the decision to release Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka.

Sign the petition calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to:

  • Immediately revoke the decision to release Sergeant Sunil Rathnayaka and ensure that his death sentence is commuted to a punishment that is commensurate to the seriousness of the crime he was convicted of and that is in line with international human rights law and standards.
  • Provide reparations to the families of the Mirusuvil massacre, and ensure protection.