» 03/17/2014, 00.00
Sri Lanka, Catholic priest and human rights activist arrested
Melani Manel Perera
The police deny everything, but the detainees warned others they were being taken away via text message. The two had asked for information on the whereabouts of a Tamil woman and her 13 year old daughter, arrested on suspicion of "hiding a criminal in their house". Their fate remains unknown.
Colombo ( AsiaNews) - A Catholic
priest and a human rights activist were arrested yesterday by the Kilinochchi anti-terrorism
police (TID) in northern Sri Lanka. Fr. Praveen
OMI, director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation ( CPR ) in Jaffna, and
Ruki Fernando, special advisor of the Center for human rights documentation, are
in the Colombo TID. The police deny the
detention of the two, but Fr. Ashok Stephen OMI, who works with
confirmed the arrest to AsiaNews. In
fact Ruki Fernando warned some friends of their arrest, via text message.
"This morning - explains Fr.
Ashok, who is also a lawyer - I presented in my vestments and asked for Fr.
Praveen . A few minutes later the officer Walisundara told me that that person
was not there, he asked me to wait and
then they questioned me. They were more interested in me than in telling me where
Fr. Praveen and Ruki were. They reiterated that the two are not being held in
custody in Colombo. If the situation does not change, I will present an
official court complaint".
Their arrest was also confirmed
by Fr. Rohan
Silva , provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Colombo. Last night the priest
was able to speak with Fr. Praveen,
who confirmed he is in a police station in Kilinochchi. In
a message sent to some of his friends, Ruki Fernando said he was interrogated
separately from the priest.
Local sources have told AsiaNews that the two Catholics were
arrested by a dozen police officers for visiting Darmapuram (Kilinochchi),
where on March 15 police arrested a Tamil woman and her 13 year old daughter
(see photo) . The
mother, Balendran Jeyakumari, is an activist for human rights with a group that
works with the Families of the
herself has lost her husband and two grown sons, who were killed during the
civil war. A
third child disappeared into thin air in 2009, at the end of the conflict.
Witnesses say that March 15 about
one hundred soldiers and policemen surrounded Balendran's house, preventing
anyone from being able to enter or exit. Then
they stormed it dragging away the woman and her teenage daughter, whose name is
to police, the activist "gave refuge to a criminal". But no evidence of this was found.
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