It is with regret that Mercy Mission (UK)
learns that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) detained the
Mercy Mission ship the MV “Captain Ali” (IMO: 6619920) on 04
Mercy Mission (UK) understands that the Sri Lanka Navy
allege that the MV Captain Ali is not in compliance with the
International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
If this is the case and the non-Mercy Mission persons
responsible for this compliance did not fulfill their
responsibilities and handle these matters in the
appropriate, professional manner, Mercy Mission (UK)
But, Mercy Mission (UK) wishes to categorically state that
the Government of Sri Lanka and the President of Sri Lanka
have been notified of the Mercy Mission ship and the project
to assist the 300,000 internally displaced persons living in
the camps in the North on a number of occasions:
• On 22 April 2009, a letter addressed to the President of
Sri Lanka describing the Mercy Mission Project was presented
to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London;
• On 27 May 2009, in informal conversations at the UN Human
Rights Council in Geneva, Arjunan Ethriveerasingam discussed
the Mercy Mission ship MV Captain Ali with Hon. Minister of
Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe
and Hon Ambasador to the United Nations Dayan Jayatillake;
• On 31 May 2009, Mercy Mission faxed and emailed letters
notifying the GoSL of the ships arrival later in the week
• Mr. S. Ganegama Arachchi, Chief of Protocol, Ministry of
• Honourable Minister for Disaster Management and Human
Rights Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe;
• Honourable Minister of Abdul Risath Bathiyutheen, Ministry
of Resettlement & Disaster Relief Services;
• Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign
Mercy Mission (UK) is also disturbed and concerned to learn
of the arrest and continuing detention by the Criminal
Investigation Division (C.I.D.) of the consignee of the
goods in Colombo, Mr. Arumugam Athmanathan, President/CEO,
SAI International Associates. Mr. Athmanathan is a diabetic
and it is reported that he is being denied access to his
insulin medication. He has been held for over 36 hours thus
• 04:10 hours (Sri Lanka Time), 04 June 2009: while in
international waters (GPS coordinates: 07 06.0n 079 23.5e)
approximately 30 miles away from the Sri Lanka coastline,
the MV Captain Ali was hailed by the Sri Lanka Navy and
“asked” to move into Sri Lankan waters.
• 05:10 hours: Five (5) vessels of the Sri Lanka Navy
intercepted the MV Captain Ali in international waters and
escorted her to the anchorage in Sri Lankan waters.
• 09:30 hours: The MV Captain Ali anchors where ordered to
do so by the Sri Lanka Navy (GPS coordinates: 06 52n 079
49e). Thirteen (13) members of the Sri Lanka Navy board the
ship and, in a professional and courteous manner, search it
from stem to stern checking the passports of all those
onboard as well as the ship’s papers. They find that, as
stated repeatedly by Mercy Mission, the ship contains only
emergency humanitarian relief (food & medicine). Later GoSL
statements confirm this and make no mention of any illegal
items. Eleven (11) members of the SL Navy are left on board
to provide “security”.
• Morning of 04 June 2009: Mr. Atmananthan of SAI
International Assoc, the consignee of the ship’s goods is
arrested and continues to be detained without charge.
Resolution & the Future:
Mercy Mission (UK) implores the Government of Sri Lanka to
engage with the Mercy Mission in order to overcome any
paperwork errors and ensure that the emergency humanitarian
relief (food & medicine) donated by the Tamil Diaspora are
delivered to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the
To that end, Mercy Mission seeks the GoSL’s permission to
allow the ship and her cargo to enter into Colombo Port, be
cleared appropriately, and handed over the Government Agent
- Vavuniya, a local NGO, or a GoSL Ministry for distribution
to the IDPs.
The GoSL has itself repeatedly pleaded with the
international community for assistance with the humanitarian
catastrophe that has overwhelmed them. With the sole
objective of providing this desperately needed emergency
humanitarian relief to the 300,000 IDPs in the camps and in
the spirit of “engaging”, “reconciling” and “building
bridges” with the Tamil Diaspora, Mercy Mission (UK) appeals
to the Government of Sri Lanka to please let this assistance
reach those who are in such desperate need.
Mercy Mission (UK) has attempted to be completely
transparent, accountable and purely humanitarian, as can be
seen on our website (www.vannimission.org). On the website
we have given the GPS locations and “live mapping” of the
ship’s progress and the “monitor onboard”, an ex-SLMM
monitor, Mr. Kristjan Guđmundsson, has been openly reporting
(blogging) on the ship’s progress.
Whatever the outcome of this process we at Mercy Mission
hope, and will continue to strive for, a greater engagement
with the Government of Sri Lanka and an exploration of the
ways and means that the Tamil Diaspora can engage with the
Government in order to help those in need.
Please visit the website for more details, photos, and
videos (including one depicting the route of the Mercy
For More Information:
Mercy Mission to Vanni
497 Sunleigh Road, Suite 27
Wembley, HA0 4LY, UK
The Captain Ali was carrying food and medicine from Tamils
Sri Lanka has turned away a ship which came from Europe
carrying aid for Tamil civilians displaced in the final
months of the civil war, officials say.
Late last week the Sri Lankan navy intercepted the vessel,
which was sent by Tamil expatriate groups.
But a navy spokesman told the BBC that the vessel, the
Captain Ali, had been ordered to clear Sri Lankan waters.
A UK-based spokesman for the group which sent the ship,
described the move as "disheartening".
The navy spokesman said the vessel had been ordered to clear
Sri Lankan territorial waters and not come to Colombo
harbour or unload anything.
Asked whether this was not a waste of the hundreds of tonnes
of food and medical aid on board, the navy spokesman said he
could not comment as the decision had been made by the
No defence official was immediately available for comment.
The spokesman for the Tamil expatriate group said the
government could have used the ship to engage with the Tamil
diaspora as a move towards reconciliation.
He said the emergency aid on board was desperately needed by
refugees in the north.
The defence ministry here earlier described the Captain Ali
as a Tamil Tiger vessel, but the defence secretary said on
Sunday that the ship "did not have any dangerous