We commenced work as R2L, in the year 2003.
Our history goes back to about eighties. Our founder members, As " Negombo Women's Committee " was trying to work with the young women workers in the Free Trade Zone from 1981. With a group of workers in 1983 they printed a small booklet with some new creation of workers such as short stories, poems and various articles. Only 300 copies of roneio printing were produced. But one of our founder members, with another 4 workers were taken into custody by Police and later released. The four workers were terminated. It gave the idea to continue work with the zone workers.
Jayanthi Dandeniya a normal factory women worker in the Katunayaka FTZ, when her fiancée Ranjith (also a zone worker ) , with his leagel representative Mr. Lional on their way back from a disciplinary inquiry, held at his own factory, were abducted, shot dead and burnt on October 27th 1989, She approached the organization for help. The period 1989 to 1991 this sort of disappearances were normal in the south of SriLanka, and during this period about 60,000 (according to NGO s ) were made disappeared. 12 workers from Katunayaka Zone were also made disappeared.
We did commemorate the disappeared workers in 1991 at the same place where Ranjith and Lional were killed. On October 27th of 1992 We started publicly, as We in the Zone (Kalape Api) with five worker demands at the same place where these killing were done. On November 7th, the same year we, with some other organizations, did the first ever campaign in front of the gates of the zone against the unofficial law which prevented of distributing leaflets to the workers. We were tear gassed, baton charged and Brito and Jayanti were taken into Police custody. But we were able to demolish this unofficial law which prevented the distribution of leaflets. Since then on we were working among the FTZ workers, supporting their issues and in campaigns. giving leagel awareness and representation in the labour offices and Tribunals, We started a news paper for the Zone workers called " NIVEKA " on January 1993 and later as a monthly publication. As we had continuously Commemorated the disappeared on every October 27th since 1991 we were supported by Asian Human Rights Commission ( AHRC ) and May 18th Memorial Foundation to build up a monument with photographs of the disappeared , which was declared open on the 4th of February 2000, with a gathering of the family members of the disappeared.
In a wall behind the Monument, called "Wall of the Tears" about 600 photographs of the disappeared have been printed and being added annually as we receive them.
In 2003 we changed from "We in the Zone "to "Right to Life Human Rights Center" as we wanted to expand our work other than to labour work into the other Human rights.
Since then we are involved in, other than the Labour rights, Against Police Torture Human Rights Violations including Health Patients rights and Transport Passenger rights Against collapse of rule of law and the delay of court cases.
Against all sort of disappearances (This issue is specially looked after by Families Of the Disappeared ( FOD ).
A civil movement where people learn about their rights specially in their daily life and to stand collectively to demand the rule of law by using the prevailing system in maximum.
To build up several activists with a good knowlage of the rights and give the leadership to other people who do like to active in their need.
To develop a human right respected and promoted society in the country.
Helping the victims of torture, Labour disputes and human rights violations, from leagel advice to filing and to continue the cases in the courts.
Give necessary assistance to attend the various inquiries and even escorting the victims.
Organizing the awareness programes in the villages through the victims Conducting Street campaigns to aware the Public. Publications on various human rights issues and printing a by monthly magazine A member in PAT (People against torture)
Was a member in the Sri Lanka pilot ETI (Ethical Trade Initiative)
A member of ALaRM ( Apparel industry Labor Rights Movement )
To encourage victims of human right violations to sort legal assistance and also to teach about human rights and how to protect them. Today more than anything else it is essential to give education at least beginning with the victims who have gone through the experiences of violations, to build up an environment which protects the human rights and guidance to build up a society who protects and respects human rights values.
To restore the institutions where more violations of human rights are existing. To train and organize specially victims and youth to become defenders of human rights and to stop the violations at their residential areas.
We firmly believe the people should learn about their rights and should demand the maximum benefit from prevailing law and to move forward demanding the rule of law in the country.
We put our every effort to build a peoples movement based on their human rights.