TNA demands release of disappearances activist
- Tamil woman and 13 year old daughter; missing peoples’ activists arrested in Kilinochchi
- Arrested for harbouring suspect, to be produced before court: Police
- Fears Jeyakumari will be detained under PTA; daughter likely to be released today
- Jeyakumari and daughter participated in missing people demo during Cameron visit to Jaffna
- Arrests show Govt. disdain for Human Rights Council: TNA
By Dharisha Bastians
After 24 hours of conflicting reports about the alleged raid on the home a Tamil woman and disappearances activist in Kilinochchi, the Tamil National Alliance has confirmed that Balendra Jeyakumari and her 13 year old daughter Vidushika were arrested following a raid on their home on Thursday night.
The arrest has sparked concerns about reprisals against human rights activists in Sri Lanka during the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva where the Government is under fire over its human rights record.
Police claim the woman has been arrested after gunshots were heard near her home and that one policeman had been injured and admitted to the Kilinochchi hospital late Thursday. Jeyakumari was being arrested for harbouring the attackers in her home, the police said.
Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana confirmed the arrest and said the women would be produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate yesterday. However at the time of going to press, the TNA maintained the two women had not been produced before court.
Speaking to Daily FT, All Ceylon Tamil Congress General Secretary and disappearances activist Gajen Ponnambalam said Jeyakumari’s lawyers had been unofficially informed that a detention order had been issued for her by the Defence Ministry, to hold her under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). “We were informed that her daughter will be released on Saturday, but those claims are now being retracted by the authorities,” Ponnambalam said.
According to the TNA which issued a statement on the issue last evening, several hundred security personnel had surrounded Jeyakumari’s home in Dharmapuram on Thursday afternoon, confiscated their mobile telephones and interrogated them for several hours before making the arrests.
The Tamil party said that Jeyakumari and her daughter were held in Vavuniya overnight and were expected to be produced in courts on Friday morning.
“We have now heard reports that Jeyakumari and Vidushika may be detained by an order of the Secretary, Ministry of Defence under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, thereby circumventing the legal requirement that they be produced before a Magistrate within twenty-four hours of arrest,” the TNA statement said.
However asked about the PTA detention order, SSP Rohana refused to comment on the specifics of Jeyakumari’s arrest. “We will produce her before the magistrate today (Friday) and make a decision then,” SSP Rohana said.
The TNA expressed its “shock” at the conduct of the authorities in the arrest. “The high-handed conduct of the Government, even while its human rights record is under scrutiny is illustrative of the Government’s disdainful conduct towards the Human Rights Council,” the TNA charged in its statement.
The Tamil party demanded that Jeyakumari and Vidushika be produced before a Magistrate forthwith and released.
“We remain deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of Jeyakumari and Vidushika, particularly given the context of reported widespread sexual violence against women in the Northern Province. We urge the international community to take all possible measures to ensure the safety and release of Jeyakumari and Vidushika,” the TNA statement added.
Jeyakumari and her daughter have been active participants in protests conducted by families of the disappeared in the Northern Province, the TNA said in a statement released last evening. They were pictured repeatedly during the missing peoples’ protest held in Jaffna during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the North in November last year. Jeyakumari’s two sons were killed in the war and the third went missing after she handed him over to the military in May 2009. Vidushika is her only remaining child.