|Over 800 Tamils arrested
Distraught families attempt to march towards
More than 800 Tamils were arrested in Colombo since
Friday during combined search operations launched by the
security forces and Police, following Wednesday’s bomb blasts at
Colombo 5 and Nugegoda, which killed more than 20 and injured
Some 100 detainees have been sent to the Boossa detention camp
in Galle following the arrests.
Around 350 Tamils were initially detained on Friday by the
Maradana, Pettah, Grand Pass, Kotahena, Dehiwala, Pelawatte,
Mirihana and Mount Lavinia Police Stations on suspicion.
However, the number had increased to over 800 by last evening.
Meanwhile, chaos raged at Galle Face Green last afternoon after
distraught family members of the victims attempted to march
towards Temple Trees to seek President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s
intervention to release the detainees.
The attempt was however blocked by the Police, who did not allow
the protestors to walk from Galle Face Green towards Temple
UNP Colombo District Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran who was also
present at Galle Face told The Nation that they suspected that
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his brother Basil
Rajapaksa were responsible for the detentions.
“It is the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and his brother
Basil who are doing this and the President is fully aware of it
all,” Maheswaran charged.
Meanwhile, the families of the victims are also scheduled to
meet with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe today to
complain about the forceful detention of hundreds of Tamils,
most of whom are Tamil youth. The issue is also expected to be
taken up in Parliament this week.
It is reported that these Tamils, mainly youth, were arrested by
the Police and security forces despite producing identification
“President Rajapaksa has agreed to meet us but not the family
members of the detainees. What is the use of talking about the
issue with only parliamentarians; the victims and their families
must be spoken to. Innocent people who come to live here because
they are unable to live in Jaffna owing to the prevailing
situation there are being taken away by the Police even after
all legal documents are presented to them,” pointed out
According to him, even cancer patients were arrested and taken
away and school boys who didn’t posses National Identity Cards
were also detained, while some have reportedly gone missing
Vocational and Technical Training Deputy Minister P.
Radhakrishnan who was also present during the protest said that
they are not happy about this latest development.
“On Friday I brought this issue to the notice of MP Basil
Rajapaksa and Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. As a Tamil
representative, I told them that this is not done. Just because
they are Tamils, they should not be harassed. If you find anyone
involved in any illegal activity they should be arrested, but
you should not harass anyone just because they come from Jaffna
and are Tamil. We are not happy about what is happening today at
all – the bomb explosions or the harassment that is taking
place. We ask the President to release the detainees,” the
Deputy Minister appealed.
The Minister explained that while a few who were arrested by the
Pettah Police have been released, a large number continued to
remain in custody.
Seeking Indian assistance
Colombo District Parliamentarian T. Maheswaran has written to
Indian Defence Advisor M.K. Narayanan requesting visas for
temporary Tamil occupants in Colombo to travel to Chennai in a
bid to avoid prosecution.
Meanwhile, Tamil parliamentarians, including the Tamil National
Alliance, will stage a harthal tomorrow in Colombo over the
arrests of over 800 Tamils.
Maheswaran told The Nation yesterday that he and other members
would raise this issue in Parliament on Monday. Parents and
family members of the detainees are scheduled to be present at
the public gallery when the matter is debated.