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 Post subject: Lankan PM apologises for expulsion of Tamils
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:21 pm 
Lankan PM apologises for expulsion of Tamils

On June 7, about 400 Tamils were evicted from scores of lodges at dawn and taken away in buses to various destinations in the war-affected and Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern provinces.

© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times
PK Balachandran, Colombo, June 10, 2007


The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, on Sunday apologised for the mass expulsion of Tamils belonging to the troubled North and East of the country from the capital city of Colombo, and pledged that such a thing would never be allowed to happen again. "We apologise for what has happened. Government takes full responsibility for it," the Prime Minister told the media in Colombo.

On June 7, about 400 Tamils were evicted from scores of lodges at dawn and taken away in buses to various destinations in the war-affected and Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern provinces. "The government has to take responsibility for the good and bad deeds of its officers," the Prime Minister declared, blaming officials for the ugly incident which received heavy flak from all over the world. Such an incident should never have happened, Wickramanayake asserted.

As there was a case regarding the expulsion in the Supreme Court, he said that he would no say more on the subject. On June 8, the apex court had stayed the expulsion and any restrictions on the entry of Tamils from the North and East into Colombo.

On the abductions and disappearances which had become the order of the day in the capital city and its environs, the Prime Minister said that while government suspected that these were being done by interested parties to "tarnish the image" of the government, the incidents would be investigated.

"It would be reasonable to ask how persons could be abducted from a busy railway station in Colombo in broad day light, when there were so many check points," Wickramanayake said, regarding the abduction of two Tamil staff of the Sri Lanka Red Cross from the Fort railway station at 6 pm on a working day recently.

The Prime Minister said there would be more check points and roadblocks, and appealed to the people not to mind the inconvenience in view of the difficult situation in the country.

Earlier, on June 7 itself, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had issued a statement rapping the police for the action and sought an "immediate report" from the Inspector General of Police, Victor Perera.

The police had justified the action saying that the lodges were places where the Tamil Tigers planned terror activities in Colombo.

They said that they had only evicted and expelled Tamils who did not have a "legal and legitimate reason" for staying in Colombo. They had been offered free bus transport to get back to their homes in the North and East, "an offer many had availed of."

But following the President's angry missive to the police chief, 186 men, women and children, who had been taken to Vavuniya in the North earlier in the day, were brought back. But about 80 people who were taken to Trincomalee for an onward journey by sea to Jaffna, did not come back. "Many had decided to get back to Jaffna, while a few are still here," said a source in Trincomalee.

On Sunday, the National Security Media Centre website, had put out a report saying that the police had been raiding these lodges regularly. It quoted an inmate as saying that the police were always polite and that such raids were necessary for national security.


Related News:

:arrow: Brutal and senseless killing of Red Cross workers


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 Post subject: Lankan Supreme Court stays Tamils’ expulsion
 Post Posted: Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:28 pm 
Lankan Supreme Court stays Tamils’ expulsion

Following the stay and the adverse remarks made both in parliament and outside, President Mahinda Rajapaka ordered the police to bring back the expelled Tamils to Colombo. More than 180 persons who had been taken to Vavuniya in the North were being brought back, reports said.

© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times
PK Balachandran, Colombo, June 08, 2007


A three-man bench of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Friday stayed the expulsion of Tamils belonging to the Northern and Eastern provinces from Colombo, and the bar on their entry into the capital city.

Admitting a Fundamental Rights petition filed by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the court passed an interim order directing the government not to take any steps to evacuate Tamils from Colombo or to prevent Tamils from entering or staying in any part of Colombo until the final determination on the petition. Further hearing on the petition was posted to June 22.

Following the stay and the adverse remarks made both in parliament and outside, President Mahinda Rajapaka ordered the police to bring back the expelled Tamils to Colombo. More than 180 persons who had been taken to Vavuniya in the North were being brought back, reports said.

About 400 Tamil men, women and children were hounded out of scores of lodges or budget hotels in Colombo and its suburbs in the early hours of Thursday, put in buses, and driven away to towns in the Tamil-speaking North and East.

The police said that Tamils from the North and East, who were not permanent residents of Colombo, could not come to or stay in Colombo "without any valid reason."

The police justified the action saying that visitors from the North and East had among them LTTE operatives who could be planning terrorist activities in the capital city. The measures followed two claymore mine blasts in the capital and its surroundings recently.

WANTON ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION

The petitioners had said that there was ethnic discrimination in the police action as people of a particular community from a particular area were earmarked for discrimination and evacuation, violating the Constitutional right to move about freely and stay or settle in, whether temporarily or permanently, in any part of the country, especially the capital city.

The treatment meted out to the Tamils concerned was degrading and was tantamount of ethnic cleansing, they said.

The action would "seriously erode belief in a pluralistic society and lend credibility to the claims of extremist elements contributing to further erosion of the rule of law," they argued.

The petitioners sought a determination saying that the action of the Respondents was a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, grant compensation and provide any other relief that the Court might deem fit.

The petitioners did not ask for the return of the expelled Tamils. Their fate is therefore still unknown. It will depend on the outcome of the case.

US CONDEMNS

Meanwhile, the United States embassy issued a statement condemning the forced removal of Tamils from Colombo, and said that that it violated the Sri Lankan Constitution.

"The United States understands and supports Sri Lanka's obligation to defend itself against terrorism. But this action can only widen the ethnic divide at a time when important efforts are underway to reach a national consensus to end Sri Lanka's nearly quarter century old conflict."

"We call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to stop the forcible removal of its citizens from Colombo, to make public the destinations of those already removed, and to ensure their safety and well-being," the statement said.

"GENOCIDE" SAYS LTTE

In its reaction, the LTTE said that what happened in Colombo was "ethnic genocide". The old and the very sick were also among those evicted, it pointed out.

"For nearly half a century, beginning in 1958, Tamils have been subjected to such atrocities by successive Sri Lankan governments," said N.Selvy, of the LTTE's Peace Secretariat.

SMACKS OF NAZI ERA, SAYS RANIL

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremsinghe, said that the government's action smacked of the way the Jews were treated in the Nazi era in Germany, and the way the Black Africans were treated under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

"FOOLISH" SAYS JVP

The Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, told parliament that the government's action was "foolish" as it would only alienate the ordinary Tamil, whose help the country needed to fight LTTE terrorism.

"Such actions appear to be taken on the premise that all Tamils are Tigers," he said. "Terrorism must be defeated, but it is essential that innocent Tamils are included in the fight to defeat terrorism."

"If the Tamil people feel that they cannot depend on the government to uphold their rights, who are you pushing them towards? To what land are you transporting them?"

"If the government is in charge of the whole country to whose land are you sending these people? Are you chasing them out of Sri Lanka? Are you sending them to another country?" Dissayanake asked in an angry speech on Thursday.

Sri Lanka, he reminded the government, belonged to all communities and every citizen should be able to visit and stay in any part of the country, he stressed.


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