04/02/2009, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Christian activist arrested: he had documents on the humanitarian crisis in Vanni

by Melani Manel Perera
Santha Fernando is the secretary of the Commission for Justice and Peace. He was arrested at the international airport of Colombo by the anti-terrorism investigative division. He was supposed to participate in a seminar on the situation in the north, ripped apart by the war between the army and the Tamil Tigers.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Sri Lanka's anti-terrorism investigative division (TID) has arrested Santha Fernando, the 63-year-old secretary of the Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP) of the National Christian Conference.

The arrest took place on March 27, at the international airport of Colombo. The TID took Fernando into custody after the security personnel of Katunayake found documents on the humanitarian crisis in Vanni in his luggage. The secretary of the CJP was going to New Delhi for a two-day seminar organized by The Other Media on the situation in the north of Sri Lanka, racked by the war between the army and the Tamil Tigers. The organization Media Freedom in Sri Lanka says that the documents in the possession of the human rights activist had been downloaded from the internet.

The Defense Ministry has decided to keep Fernando, arrested according to the anti-terrorism law, in custody for 30 days. Today the secretary of the CJP was visited in jail by his wife and by Wickramabahu Karunaratne, the secretary general of the Nava Sama Samaja Party, who said about the incident: "Clearly the government is afraid of the truth about human sufferings in Sri Lanka."

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