Sampanthan.jpg 2 The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) protests in the strongest terms the arrest of a widow named Balendra Jeyakumari and her thirteen-year-old daughter Vidushika from Dharmapuram in the Kilinochchi District last evening, Thursday 13 March 2014. The Sri Lankan Police claims that gunshots were heard in the vicinity of their home and that a policeman was injured. They also claim that the alleged attackers appeared to have taken shelter in Jeyakumari’s house.

Jeyakumari and Vidushika are active participants in most protests conducted by families of the disappeared in the Northern Province. 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.

A massive contingent of several hundred security personnel surrounded Jeyakumari’s house last afternoon, confiscated their mobile telephones and interrogated them for over four hours before taking them away. They were reportedly held in Vavuniya overnight and were to be produced before a Magistrate today, Friday 14 March 2014. However, as of 3.00pm, they are yet to be produced. TNA Members of Parliament Mavai Senathirajah and E. Saranapavan have been at the Magistrate’s Court premises the whole of today. 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 is shocked and appalled at the conduct of the authorities in this regard. The high-handed conduct of the government, even while its human rights record is under scrutiny at the current sessions of the Human Rights Council, is illustrative of the government’s disdainful conduct towards the Human Rights Council. The TNA demands 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.

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