SLA holds Tamils as hostages -TULF MP

[TamilNet, Saturday, 13 March 1999, 18:12 GMT]
"Tamils remain under a majority run army as hostages under a state of siege" said Joseph Pararajasingham MP addressing a meeting for Norwegian Parliamentarians in Batticaloa this morning.

Mr.Joseph is the leader of the Tamil United Liberation front's parliamentary group. (A copy of his prepared speech was released to the press earlier in the day) The MP said, among other things:

joseph_pararasasingam.gif"The beauties of Sri Lanka have inspired such appellations as "Pearl of the Orient" and "Land without Sorrow".

Today these appellations have a hollow ring. To many of its people it would be better described as the "Island of Terror", a land steeped in blood, scene of the worst atrocities in modern times..... They (the Tamils) are treated as suspects and as captives with a billeted army in these (north and east) habitations.

The rule in these parts is semi-military and democratic institutions do not exist.

It is an imposition of power and force and the Tamils remain under a majority run army as hostages under a state of siege.

In other parts of the country the Tamils are unwelcome and are subjected to humiliating checks and severe inquest (sic) by the Police and the army and they suffer indignity and pain.

Many people taken under suspicion are kept without being arraigned before the courts of law and they are at the whims and caprice of their captors.... and about 1650 Tamils are still languishing in special places of detention in a highly restrictive state of captivity.

They are not given facilities to seek legal assistance nor do they have the means to do so.

Torture is common and one has enough evidence from the few cases brought before the law that innocent Tamils in captivity have suffered immensely from torture.

A Tamil visiting Colombo city has to register himself at the nearest Police station in Colombo, though he carries a national identity card issued by the government of Sri Lanka to identify him as a Sri Lankan national.

All this is possible because of the draconian laws like the Prevention Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations which are made even more severer (sic) from time to time.

A Tamil is often a guilty party and is expected to prove his innocence which is almost impossible because of the want of freedom to move about and muster evidence.

The current situation in the country is undoubtedly dangerous and thoroughly inhospitable for any returning refugees. No sooner they land and are (sic) questioned on the basis that they have gone out to create trouble. This is because of the presumption of the security forces.

Adding insult to injury many Tamils are arrested at the airport and charged under the obnoxious law 'Immigrants and Emigrants (Amendment) Act No.42 of 1998. This amendment as presently worded is more savage to the Tamils. It is made a non bailable offence.

Therefore, the right of a citizen to prepare any process of appeal or recanvassing of the decision taken is practically prohibited owing to the refusal of bail. Under this law, more than 100 Tamils have been convicted and serving one year in prison and a fine of hundred thousand rupees."

Mr.Joseph appealed to the Norwegian Parliament President and MPs that their country should reconsider the decision to deport 400 Tamil asylum seekers.

He said "In my opinion, the climate is totally insecure and threatening to those who have the misfortune if they are Tamils (sic) and have to be repatriated from abroad."


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