Sri Lanka rejects international concerns over arrests

Ravinatha Aryasinha_CI   In a statement issued yesterday by the Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, the government rejected international concerns over the detention of three activists – Balendran Jeyakumari, Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen, as well as Ms. Jeyakumari’s 13 year old daughter, Vipoosika.

The Statement said Sri Lanka wishes to exercise its right of reply on statements made regarding the arrest and detention of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari, and the detention of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen.  

a.   Investigations revealed that K.P. Selvanayagam a.k.a. Gobiwho had been  overseas  and returned to Sri Lanka was actively  involved in  reviving the LTTE through regrouping LTTE  cadres  and recruiting unemployed local  youth  with the intention of using them for acts of terrorism.

b.  The intention of these LTTE operatives headed by Gobi had been to recover arms cachés hidden by the LTTE prior to their defeat.

c.  The key operative directing the operations, Gobi, had been evading arrest.Following further investigations, the Terrorist Investigations  Division  (TID)  had  recovered an arms caché including mortar and RPG type live ammunition, 3 hand grenades, 2.5 kg claymore bomb and ammunition for T-56 weapons.

d.  Pursuant to this recovery, and a  lead obtained on  the whereabouts of Gobi, a team of Police Officers proceeded to the residence  of Balendran  Jeyakumari in  Killinochchi.During the search operation  Gobi had fired at the Police,injuring a sub-Inspector and  escaped.

e. At this residence, the landlady Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13 year old daughter Vibooshika were present.Since suspect  Gobi while being armed escaped, a  search  was carried out on the said residence. A Menelab F-3 type mine detector was recovered.Therefore, Ms.  Jeyakumari was placed  under arrest  on  suspicion  of aiding and abetting Gobi in his activities.

f.   As Balendran Jeyakumari had been unable  to provide an appropriate caregiver/relative to keep  her 13 year old daughter, she was  taken  along  with  the mother and produced before the Killinochchi Magistrate. Based on the Magistrate’s order, Vibooshika has  been placed under the care of Probation and Child Care Services.

g.    The aforementioned arrest was made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The ICRC has access to all detainees being held at Boossa.

Therefore, it is regrettable that an elected member of the Northern Provincial  Council, Ms.  Ananthi  Sasitharan,has  chosen  to misrepresent this  case in  this august  body and depict it as  an arrest made of a child who had participated in protests.It is also regrettable  that Ms.  Sasitharan, despite  being  a  member of a provincial  administration, has  chosen  to make statements  in  the Council using time allocated to two NGOs. We also note that Ms.Sasitharan, in referring in her statements to the Council to ´Tamil Eelamµ, has failed to adhere to the agreed language of the United Nations, and is in violation of the Constitution she has pledged to uphold as a Provincial Councilor.

The detention  on  16 th March of Mr. Ruki  Fernando  and Father Praveen  under the PTA were in connection  with  the aforesaid investigation  into attempts  to revive the LTTE by operatives, including the recovery of the arms caché at Vishwamadu and the shooting incident in  Dharmapuram involving Gobi. Investigations have revealed that Mr. Fernando and Father Praveen had been in Killinochchi  engaging  with  persons  connected to Gobi.Their questioning is continuing at present to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other related operatives.

 The above actions taken by the Law Enforcement Authorities of Sri Lanka are well  within the existing legal  framework and following due process.This development also underscores the need to be vigilant on the activities  of the  remnants  of the  terrorist group, considering its bearing on national security.

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