Sri Lanka yesterday explained to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) the investigations that led to the arrest and detention of three activists suspected of supporting subversive activities in violation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in the conflict-affected North.
Exercising its Right of Reply on statements made regarding the arrest and detention of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari and the detention of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen, the Government of Sri Lanka detailed to the Human Rights Council today (March 18th), the sequence of events preceding the arrests.
Fr. Praveen Maheshan and Ruki Fernando, have been released after they were produced before the Fort Magistrate in the early hours today.
Sri Lanka said Ms. Jeyakumari was placed under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting K.P. Selvanayagam a.k.a. 'Gobi' who is believed to be leading the revival of the LTTE in Sri Lanka, while Mr. Fernando and Father Praveen have been detained as it has been revealed that they have been in Kilinochchi engaging with persons connected to Gobi.
Their questioning is continuing at present, to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other related operatives.
According to the statement delivered at the UNHRC Tuesday, Gobi has been involved in recruiting unemployed local youth to revive the LTTE and in the process of recovering arm caches hidden in the North by the terrorist organization during the war.
The police and army teams had been deployed to arrest the absconding suspect and recover the hidden arm caches.
The Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) had recovered an arms cache including mortar and RPG type live ammunition, 3 hand grenades, 2.5 kg claymore bomb and ammunition for T-56 weapons.
Pursuant to this recovery, and a lead obtained on the whereabouts of Gobi, a team of Police Officers proceeded to the residence of Balendran Jeyakumari in Kilinochchi and during the search operation Gobi had fired at the Police, injuring a sub-Inspector and escaped.
A search in Jeyakumari's residence found A Menelab F-3 type mine detector, and therefore, Ms. Jeyakumari was placed under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting Gobi in his activities, the UNHRC was told.
Since Ms. Jeyakumari was unable to provide an appropriate caregiver/relative to keep her 13 year old daughter, she was taken along with the mother and produced before the Kilinochchi Magistrate who had ordered placing the child under the care of Probation and Child Care Services.
Sri Lanka said the arrest was made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the ICRC has access to all detainees being held at Boossa Detention Center.
Sri Lanka further expressed regret that the Council was misinformed by an elected member of the Northern Provincial Council, Ms. Ananthi Sasitharan depicting it as an arrest made of a child who had participated in protests.
The Sri Lankan delegation also noted that Ms. Sasitharan, in referring in her statements to the Council to "Tamil Eelam", has failed to adhere to the agreed language of the United Nations, and is in violation of the Constitution she has pledged to uphold as a Provincial Councilor.
Explaining the detentions on 16th March of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen under the PTA, the Sri Lankan representative said their detentions were in connection with the investigation into Gobi's attempts to revive the LTTE by operatives, including the recovery of the arms cache at Vishwamadu and the shooting incident in Dharmapuram in Kilinochchi.
Investigations have revealed that Mr. Fernando and Father Praveen had been in Kilinochchi engaging with persons connected to Gobi. Their questioning is continuing at present to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other related operatives, the Council was told.
Sri Lanka said the actions taken by the law enforcement authorities of Sri Lanka are well within the existing legal framework and following due process.
The delegation also pointed out that these developments also underscore the need to be vigilant on the activities of the remnants of the terrorist group, considering its bearing on national security.
Full text of the statement:
Misconceptions on detention of Balendran Jayekumari
The Permanent Mission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland presents its compliments to all Permanent Missions accredited to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Switzerland and has the honour to circulate herewith the statement by the Government of Sri Lanka with regard to the arrest and detention of Ms. Balendran Jeyakumari, for the information of the esteemed Permanent Missions.
Statements have been _made at the 25th Session of the UN Human Rights Council on the arrest and detention of Balendran Jeyakurnari.
In order to eliminate any misconception in this regard, the GoSL wishes to state the following :
a. K.P. Selvanayagarn a.k.a. Gobi who had been overseas and returned to Sri Lanka was actively involved in reviving the ME in association with certain urrE operatives including those resident in Switzerland.
b. Investigations revealed that there is an attempt to regroup urrE cadres and recruit unemployed local youth with the intention of using them for acts of terrorism and SO such person had already been mobilized in the North, East and in Colombo.
c. In this context, the LTTE had hidden arms and ammunition/explosives and other military equipment in secret locations prior to the end of the conflict. and the purpose of this operation had been to recover, such material and put them in the hands of these operatives.
d. The key operative who was directing the operations K.P. Selvanayagarn, a.k.a. Gobi had been evading arrest.
Following further investigations the Terrorist Investigations Division (TID) had recovered arms and ammunition/explosives and other military equipment including several mobile phones, propaganda material related to Tamil Eelam, mortar and RPG type live ammunition, three hand grenades, 2.5 kg claymore bomb and ammunition for T-56 weapons among other material.
e. Pursuant to the recovery the Police obtained a lead on the whereabouts of the chief suspect Gobi which resulted in a team of Officers proceeding to the residence of Balendran Jeyakumari in Killinochchi. During the search operation Gobi had fired at the Police officers, injuring sub Inspector of Police Rathna Kumar and escaped. The Sub Inspector is currently undergoing treatment in hospital.
f. At this residence the landlady Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13 year old daughter Balendran Vibooshika were present. Since suspect Gobi while being armed escaped from this residence a search was carried out on the said residence. A Menelab F-3 type mine detector was recovered from the residence, As Ms, Jeyakumari was unwilling to provide further details with regard to Gobi she was placed under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting Gobi in his activities to reorganize the UTTE.
g. As Balendran Jeyakumari had been unable to provide an appropriate caregiver/relative to keep her 13 year old daughter she was taken along with the mother and produced before the Killinochchi Magistrate [Case No. B201/2014; and the Police officials requested the Magistrate to either place the child in protective care, with a relative/caregiver, or in the alternative she could remain with her mother in Boossa detention Centre. Based on the Magistrate's order Vibooshika has been placed under the care of Probation and Child Care services.
h. The aforementioned arrest was made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). It should be further noted that the ICRC has access to all detainees being held at Boossa.
Therefore, it is regrettable that an elected member of the Northern Provincial Council of Sri Lanka Ms. Ananthi Sasitharan has chosen to misrepresent this case and depict it as an arrest made of a child who had participated in protests. At no time was Vibooshika arrested. It was only at the insistence of the mother that Vibooshika was taken along with her and produced before the Magistrate for a protective order.
The actions taken by the Law Enforcement Authorities of Sri Lanka are well within the existing legal framework and following due process.
The very fact that Provincial Counsellor Sasitharan could freely visit Geneva and addressed this august Assembly appearing as a NGO representative presenting her side of the story is a clear demonstration of the fact that she is able to enjoy the benefits of democracy in Sri Lanka. It may be recalled that Provincial Counsellor Sasitharan has been able to be a part of the democratic process due to the re-establishment of the democratic system in the North after a lapse of three decades due to terrorism. While having been closely associated with the LTTE through the activities of her husband the choice of language continues to demonstrate affinity with the cause of the UTE. For instance, in one of her statements she refers to children in the area as "Eelam Tamil children". As the Council may already be aware Eelam is the name given by the ME to their cause of creating a mono-ethnic separate state which they attempted to do through 30-years of bloodshed and terrorism. Her claim that her husband was a political leader is incorrect as her husband EliTan was a leading LITE terrorist, who had been widely regarded as responsible for terrorist activities including the recruitment of child combatants.
The detention on 16th March 2014 of Mr. Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were in connection with the investigation into the attempts to revive the ME by operatives, including the recovery of the cache of arms at Vishwarnadu on 11th March 2014 and the shooting incident which took place in Dharmapuram on 13th March 2014 where the involvement of Gobi transpired. Investigations have revealed that Mr. Fernando and Father Praveen had been in Killinochchi engaging with persons connected to Gobi. Their questioning is continuing at present to ascertain the whereabouts of Gobi and other related operatives.
This development underscores the need to be vigilant on the activities of the remnants of the terrorist group, considering its bearing on national security. Subsequent to the immense bloodshed and suffering endured by the people of Sri Lanka following three decades of terrorism, it is all the more imperative on the Government to ensure its non recurrence.