Moment of Silence Ceremony for 17 Executed Workers

Tsunami Relief on Hold after Murder of Action Against Hunger Workers

Over the weekend all 17 of Action Against Hunger's (ACF) employees in Muttur, Sri Lanka were found dead lying face down at the organization's base. Action Against Hunger and international human rights group have called for an independent investigation into the deaths of the staff.

The $1.6 billion in cash money raised for Tsunami relief was one of the largest international charitable efforts from the United States public in recent history. Action Against Hunger has $19.1 million earmarked for Tsunami relief in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and has already supported over 72,000 beneficiaries with relief programs in Sri Lanka. The events of the past week have put relief efforts in Sri Lanka on hold and threaten other humanitarian actions.

ACF's former international president Jean-Christophe Rufin insists that this horrible act should not be "trivialized": "The Muttur massacre should not be seen as a 'professional risk' or a 'humanitarian danger.' This is in fact a turn in the history of humanitarian action. The values that we uphold have not been respected by the murderers. Action Against Hunger International Network defends a humanitarian approach which is not about sending cash from the West, but rather to work directly with the community. This is where the challenge lies. Some prefer humanitarianism that just pays cash to one that also witnesses."

"We are not making any assumptions nor will we be letting go. We shall get to the bottom of all that has happened. It is also in the interest of Sri Lanka" said Rufin, "We have asked the United Nations to be associated with the independent inquiry. We want to know who the killers are. For the time being we do not make any assumptions. We will inform the press on the proceedings of the inquiry every month until we have a complete insight into what has happened."

The Action Against Hunger employees, 13 men and four women, between the ages of 23 and 54, were water and sanitation experts, engineers, agronomists, and project managers.

Action Against Hunger has implemented programs in Sri Lanka since 1996 to assist the population affected by the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan army along with people who were displaced following the tsunami of December 2004. Action Against Hunger's teams in Sri Lanka include 15 international employees and 224 national employees (three international employees and 50 national employees in Trincomalee).

A moment of silence ceremony will take place to honor the 17 Action Against Hunger staff who were killed this past week in Sri Lanka. The ceremony will occur at the same time as the funeral in Sri Lanka, organized by the families. We will evoke the memory of each of the 17 members of the team by showing photos and saying a small word about each one. A memory book will be open to collect written testimonies of sympathy for the families.

Date and Time:
Friday, August 11 at 7:00 AM. The ceremony will end around 7:30 AM.

Action Against Hunger's US office—247 West 37th Street, Suite 1201, New York, NY 10018 (Between 7th & 8th Avenues).

Interview Opportunity :
Cathy Skoula, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger's US office.