Mar 17, Colombo: The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a Paris-based non-governmental federation for human rights organizations, has condemned the arrest of three human rights activists in Sri Lanka and called on the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately and unconditionally release them.
Issuing a statement, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) condemned the arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Ruki Fernando, Rev. Praveen Omi and Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari, which they say seem to merely aim at sanctioning their peaceful human rights activities.
The Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) of Sri Lanka Police detained Ruki Fernando, a human rights adviser to the human rights organization INFORM, based in Colombo, and Rev. Praveen Omi, former Director of the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (CPR) based in Jaffna Sunday under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
The police allege the two activists of creating ethnic disharmony and promoting separatism in the conflict-affected North.
The two activists have visited the residents of Dharmapuram in Kilinochchi to inquire about the arrest on March 13 of an activist for missing persons Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year old daughter Vithuskaini, who have been campaigning against enforced disappearances.
Ms. Jeyakumari has been detained at the Boosa detention center under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) while her daughter has been handed over to child probation services.
Following their arrest by the Kilinochchi Police, the Fernando and Father Praveen have been brought to Colombo for further questioning. The TID Director had confirmed to one of the lawyers representing the two activists that they were both brought to Colombo and were being held at the TID headquarters.
The FIDH said in its statement, that, no charges have been formally framed yet and there is still no clear information on their current location. In addition, no lawyer has been allowed to visit them.
The NGO made an urgent appeal to demand the release of Mr. Ruki Fernando, Rev. Praveen Omi and Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary and only aims at sanctioning their human rights activities.
The urgent appeal called for an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against the three activists and more generally against all human rights defenders in Sri Lanka and ensure that they are able to carry out their peaceful and legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
Full text of the Urgent Appeal by FIDH