Update: Interim Program Director Christine Schweitzer has arrived in Sri Lanka to support the team and discuss NP's work with authorities.
On June 24th, a fax was received at the Colombo office of Nonviolent Peaceforce – Sri Lanka (NPSL), from the Department of Immigration and Emigration, advising the project that visas for Ms. Tiffany Easthom (Country Director, NPSL) and Mr. Ali Palh (Coordinator Human Rights Defenders Project, NPSL) were being cancelled and that they would have to leave the country on or before July 1st. Upon request, immigration staff extended their departure date until the 7th July and both Ms. Easthom and Mr. Palh left Sri Lanka on that date. NP has written to the relevant Sri Lankan authorities to request further information as to the reason, or reasons, upon which these decisions were based.
We are emphasising that Nonviolent Peaceforce is an international, humanitarian NGO that has worked in Sri Lanka since 2003. We are committed at all times to working within the laws of our host country and to remaining above reproach in all respects. We work openly and transparently and have nothing to hide about the work we are doing. However, there have been some reports in the Sri Lankan media concerning our work here, which have been misleading and which we, therefore, feel compelled to correct.
Nonviolent Peaceforce is a non-partisan organisation. We do not support, favour or engage with one political party, faction or group over any other but engage with all parties on an equal basis without bias or prejudice. We are also strictly independent and do not represent the interests or position of any government, religion, or funder. NP is a field-based, not a campaigning, organisation. We work diplomatically at the appropriate level of government in order to improve security for civilians at risk of harm and to prevent attacks and other human rights violations. The focus of our efforts is on prevention and change rather than on investigation and the attribution of blame.