Ahead of UN Vote, Colombo Justifies Arrest of Tamil Activists

Published: 19th March 2014 07:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2014 07:37 PM   |  A+A-


Ahead of a crucial UN human rights council vote in Geneva, Sri Lanka Wednesday clarified it had arrested three Tamil activists, including a woman, under an anti-terror law on suspicion they were involved in abetting efforts to reorganise the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Activist Balendran Jayakumari was arrested March 13 near Kilinochchi on terrorism related charges. Her 13-year-old daughter Vibooshika was taken along and placed under the care of a child care service.

The Sri Lankan government, in a statement, said Jayakumari was harbouring K.P. Selvanayagam a.k.a. Gobi, a Tamil activist who had returned to Sri Lanka and "was actively involved in reviving the LTTE". Gobi had fired at police when they came to arrest him and injured a sub inspector.

The statement also trashed the allegations of Ananthi Sasitharan, an elected member of the Northern Provincial Council, that Jayakumari's daughter was arrested. It said that the teen was not arrested but "only at the insistence of the mother" taken along with her and produced before the magistrate for a protective order.

It also expressed disapproval at Sasitharan "continuing to demonstrate her affinity with the cause of the LTTE". The statement termed as incorrect Sasitharan's claim of her husband being a political leader and instead described him as "a leading LTTE terrorist, who had been widely regarded as responsible for terrorist activities including the recruitment of child combatants".

It said the March 16 detention of two activists, Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen, under the stringent anti-terror law, Prevention of Terrorism Act, was "in connection with the investigation into the attempts to revive the LTTE by operatives" and the recovery of arms at Vishwamadu March 11 and a shooting incident in Dharmapuram March 13 in which the "involvement of Gobi came to light".

It said the questioning of Fernando and Father Praveen is continuing to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other operatives.

The statement said the development "underscores the need to be vigilant on the activities of the remnants of the terrorist group, in view of its bearing on national security. Subsequent to the immense bloodshed and suffering endured by the people of Sri Lanka following three decades of terrorism it is all the more important for the government to be vigilant".

Jayakumari is a member of the Mannar Citizens' Committee, a coalition of families seeking information on the whereabouts of missing loved ones.

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka has called for Sri Lanka's National Human Rights Commission to probe her arrest "in view of the disputed and controversial nature of the facts".

According to UN statistics, thousands of civilians were killed during the final stages of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Member countries of the UN Human Rights Council are to vote March 28 on a US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka that could call for a probe into alleged war crimes.

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