Civil society decries internment of Vanni families in Jaffna
[TamilNet, Thursday, 01 January 2009, 13:53 GMT]
Sri Lanka military and Police in Kopaay are keeping more than 155 members of 60 families who arrived in Jaffna as refugees from Vanni in a newly established camp in Kopaay Teachers Training College without basic facilities and without any freedom of movement, civil society sources in Jaffna said.
The refugees are not permitted by the SLA soldiers and police to go out of this refugee camp where the families are kept in a kept in a small space in a cramped environment.
Despite request made by the refugees the Sri Lanka government authorities have denied them permission for them to stay with their relatives.
The relatives are also not allowed to visit the refugees in the camp.
Koappaay Pretheshiya Secretariat is in charge of the administration of the above camp.
Medical officers visit the camp to treat children falling ill.
The refugees are given cooked meals worth 250 rupees per day, the government officials said.
Sri Lanka military and the Government authorities were earlier accused by the New York based Human Rights Watch for confinement of people fleeing war in "army-run prison camps."
In a report released 23rd December HRW said: "Sri Lankan government should stop arbitrarily detaining civilians fleeing fighting in the northern Vanni region and urgently allow humanitarian agencies to return to provide desperately needed aid, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today...The government's ‘welfare centers' for civilians fleeing the Vanni are just badly disguised prisons."
In an earlier media release issued on July 2008, the HRW said: Sri Lankan government should end the arbitrary detention of more than 400 civilians displaced by recent fighting at a newly established camp in northern Sri Lanka.
"March 2008, the government of Sri Lanka has detained civilians fleeing areas controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at a so-called welfare center in Kalimoddai, Mannar district. The Sri Lankan armed forces have imposed severe restrictions on freedom of movement, instituting a daily pass system that limits to 30 the number of people who can leave the camp each day, and only if a family member remains behind to guarantee the detainees return in the evening. No court has authorized their detention and no charges have been filed against any of the camp’s occupants, in violation of international human rights law," the report said.