Photo courtesy Janikissima on Flickr

Last night’s arrest of Ruki Fernando and Fr. Praveen in Kilinochchi on terrorism charges, soon after the arrest of Jeyakumari Balendran and her young daughter on suspicion of harbouring a criminal, is extremely disturbing and an urgent call to action. In stark contrast to what the Government says in Geneva is what it does in Sri Lanka. Human rights activists are being arrested under draconian laws which permit the authorities to interrogate them in isolation for extended periods of time. It is clear the government wants to go after those who flag human rights abuses. This is happening when deliberations at the Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka are taking place, demonstrating the regime’s scant regard for international opinion and scrutiny. It is an urgent call to hold the government accountable and use all means necessary, in Geneva and elsewhere, to secure the safety of Ruki, Fr. Praveen, Jeyakumari, her daughter and others similarly under arrest and detained. Failure to do suggests that words aside, the international community accepts the democratic deficit in Sri Lanka.

We received the following updates last night:

At around 10.05 pm tonight, several of us received a text message from Ruki Fernando, on his mobile number 0773874xxx stating that Ruki and Father Praveen have been detained at the killnochchi police station, apparently on suspicion of a shooting. Later, Ruki informed a colleague also via text, that he and father Praveen were being questioned separately.

A lawyer who called the Killinochchi police station, was informed that no such persons were arrested by the Killinochchi police or being held at the police station. However the police said that two persons had been arrested by a specially appointed unit of the TID and were being held at a separate location in Killinochchi.

Another lawyer who spoke to the OIC Killinochchi was informed that Ruki and Praveen were being questioned and a decision regarding their continued detention would be made in the morning. This directly contradicts the version in the para above.

We don’t know the details of arrest or the facts leading up to it. We are very concerned for their safety and urgently need a lawyer who can visit the police station tonight and find out where they are being held on for what reasons etc.

We published two more updates to the situation:

Update 1: A lawyer who called the Killinochchi police, was informed that ruki and fr. praveen were being questioned by around 15 TID officers at the Killinochchi Police station.

The HRC has also been informed that both persons are being held at the police station.

Still no clear reasons for this treatment and we have also not been able to find a lawyer in Jaffna/Vavuniya/Killi who can visit the police station.

Update 2: there is a possibility that ruki and father praveen ay be moved to colombo or vavuniya, but we have not been able to verify where they are at present.

As journalist Dinouk Colomboge notes on Twitter,

Ruki has been a prolific author on Groundviews, covering over the years issues and incidents mainstream media has often glossed over and the Government claims simply don’t exist, are fabricated or over-hyped. A number of videos featuring Ruki’s take on the human rights conditions in Sri Lanka can be viewed here.

Follow Twitter for the latest updates on Ruki’s arrest:

  • Dev

    Can someone please wake up our dear dear cardinal? Your sheep are being harassed, oh where though art you shepherd?

    • Eusense

      Did the Dear Cardinal order his sheep to indulge in this kind of activity? Isn’t the sheep supposed to be preaching the faith?

  • Eusense

    Can some one link me to what
    Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen was doing for rights of people of Sri Lanka when the LTTE terrorists were suicide murdering on a daily basis?

    • Fitzpatrick

      There is something wonderful called GOOGLE(since you already have access to the internet). I suggest you use that to find out.

      • Eusense

        I guess you know that these two did not do a darn thing !

        • Sharanga Ratnayake

          I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but you don’t need to be a human rights activist, or an impartial, unerring saint to have human rights, and have right to not be jailed based on trumped up charges.

          So really, the issue here isn’t whether they were human rights activists or not, or whether they were impartial or not, but whether the government had a valid reason to arrest them under terrorism charges.

          It’s interesting that you feel you need to talk about these other issues without addressing this, which is really the only issue raised by the article.

  • Piranha

    Why are the religious leaders keeping silent? Many catholic clergy were murdered by the Rajapaksa regime during the years of strife and many more were made to disappear. Ruki is a brave fighter for the human rights of the ordinary people and he must be protected from abuse by the military.

  • Sunimal

    why catholic fathers are involve Tamil-terrorist politics in north. There are solid evidence that they having connections with LTTE-outfit. Religious leaders has to work for harmony, peace and stability of People of North.
    Can they lie to the country, that they having no-relationship wit LTTE outfit in North? Don’t misused or seize the opportunity misled youth and North people again by encouraging terrorism in north by misusing name of ‘human rights’.