06/11/2007, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Colombo regrets evicting Tamils

by Melani Manel Perera
Government expresses regrets over the forced eviction of almost 400 Tamils from the capital, ostensibly for security reasons, saying police made a mistake. After many protests Supreme Court blocks eviction order and removal to northern native villages.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickramanayaka expressed regrets for the forced eviction of hundreds of Tamils from Colombo last week by police following protest by local and international associations and the Supreme Court’s decision on Saturday stopping further removals. The government has also opened an investigation to determine why and who made the decision.

Thursday of last week the predominantly Sinhalese police began rounding up Tamil residents from the capital’s suburbs forcing more than 370 to leave their homes to go back to their native villages in the north, which are currently involved in heavy army operations, including air bombing and artillery.

In a statement released on June 1, the Inspector General of Police Victor Perera had said that “Tamil People cannot remain in Colombo without a valid reason,” justifying the action on security grounds because of a recent wave of attacks in the city.

However, “it was a big mistake and we regret it and are ready to take responsibility for this unfortunate incident,” the prime minister said in yesterday’s press conference.

In the wake of protests, Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse asked Perera to prepare a report on the removal of Tamils from the capital.

Similarly, “if anyone is guilty we shall take the necessary steps against him,” the prime minister said.

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