Sri Lanka: Freed Catholic activists “forbidden to speak to press or leave country"
by Melani Manel Perera
At the request of the Anti- terrorism Department (TID), a court in Colombo issues a restraining order for Fr. Praveen Maheshan and Ruki Fernando. They will also have to hand over their computers and phones. The two had been arrested for having asked to see an arrested Tamil activist. Priest of the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM): "Why does our country prevent us from practicing our faith?".

Colombo ( AsiaNews) - Strictly forbidden to talk to press or to leave Sri Lanka, and ordered to hand over their computers and phones to anti- terrorism police. This was the order issued by a Colombo court overnight to Fr. Praveen Maheshan and Ruki Fernando (see photo), the human rights activists released - without charge - on March 19 by a magistrate. Speaking to AsiaNews Fr Stephen Ashok, director of Center for Society and Religion (Csr), reports that the two " have already lodged an appeal against this decision".

The Anti-Terrorism Department (TID) applied to the Court for this restraining order. In fact it was the TID which on March 16 in Kilinochchi (north of the country) arrested the Tamil priest and Sinhalese activist. The two were in the area to ask about Balendran Jeyakumari, a Tamil rights activist arrested along with her 13 year old daughter, on charges of "harboring a criminal".

"What they did - Fr . Sarath Iddamalgoda, a convener of the CSM explains to AsiaNews - was respond to their faith and their conscience.  The asked to visit the prisoners, the exploited and oppressed, and take care of them, as we are always inspired to do by God. No authorities can prevent the practice of faith. Unfortunately, few are brave enough to do it. Fr. Praveen and Ruki , are the modern day prophets".

According to Fr . Iddamalgoda , " the hierarchy should immediately discuss the matter with the government [ and ask ] why our country is impossible to profess one's faith."