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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Arbitrary Arrests and Degrading
Treatment of Tamils continues - April 1998
"....Human rights agencies have protested for several years about arbitrary arrests and degrading treatment of Tamils. Thousands of Tamils were taken into custody in March and April in Colombo and surrounding areas....
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leaders M Sivasithamparam and Neelan Tiruchelvam, giving evidence before the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission on 9 April, pointed out that fundamental rights of Tamils in Colombo were being violated with impunity and arrests take place, in many instances, despite possessing all the necessary documents, solely on the basis of ethnicity.
Some 2,000 Tamils were arrested on 31 March in Kotahena, Pettah and Kochchikade suburbs, including over 500 women. In April, a large number of Tamils were taken into custody in Colombo, Dehiwala and Wattala. Those arrested in Dehiwala in early April say they were beaten up by the police and warned not to inform the ICRC about the assault. They were also paraded before thalayattis or masked informers. Kotahena suburb was searched on several occasions in the night and many were detained, including a number of people residing and working in the city.
....Lodges which provide cheap accommodation for people arriving from the north-east were also searched. A woman who lives in a Kotahena lodge says her two daughters had been arrested for the second time. A new police rule introduced on 1 April requires those staying in lodges to complete a form with a photograph certified by the Grama Sevaka (Village Headman) of the area, in addition to police registration. A copy of the form will be retained by the lodge owner. A committee headed by Social Services minister Premalal Dissanayake has recommended the establishment of a hostel in Colombo which can hold 5,000 people from the north-east...
A Hill Country Tamil student from Liyangahawela in Badulla District was arrested in late April at Galaha in Kandy District while on a visit to attend a wedding. At the time of the arrest, the student had with him, his National Identity Card (NIC), an identity card issued by the National Youth Services Council and a school identity card. The police detained him for a week without informing his parents before producing him in court....
Tamil MP Joseph Pararajasingham, speaking in Parliament in April, highlighted the widespread police involvement in bribery in the arrest of Tamils. Mr Pararajasingham also said that Tamils arriving from other countries at the Colombo airport were treated differently and harassed and that he was aware of detention of Tamil youths from abroad on the unsubstantiated allegation that they were involved in raising funds for the LTTE." (British Refugee Council publication Sri Lanka Monitor, April 1998)