I am sorry to say that not much has changed with respect to the three brave activists currently held without evidence in Sri Lankan Jail.
- Jeyakumari remains in Boosa detention centre, her daughter remains with children’s services.
- Outrageously lawyers and family members still haven’t been allowed to see Ruki and Fr Praveen. We do at least now know where they are: in the HQ of the Terrorist Investigation Department in Colombo. We are told that they have been visited by the National Human Rights Commission, and that they appeared well, but we feel that nothing other than family and legal visits will reassure us on that score.
- Under the terms of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act all three can be detained without trial for up to 18 months. Ruki and Fr Praveen have not even been charged yet while Jeyakumari has been charged with harbouring a suspect. If they are not released Ruki and Fr Praveen should be produced before the courts within the next 2 days for charging. They are under suspicion of the patently absurd charges of supporting terrorism and fermenting ethnic discord – which carries a 20 year sentence.
- There appears to be a general crackdown across Sri Lanka with local news reporting on at least four other arrests, one apparently involving a severe beating and one involving a pregnant woman being detained. Local journalists have also tweeted pictures of the significantly increased military presence around the town of Killinochi.
Meanwhile with respect to the campaign for their release:
- We noticed some issues with respect to the instructions in our previous email and blog and so have updated our directions in our previous post.
- The Observatory project for the protection of Human Rights Defenders has also come up with some ideas of how you can help.You can read them here.
- There was a wealth of media coverage on the issue: BBC, New York Times, Guardian, Al Jazeera, Ft (£), and from Ruki’s friends at York University (where he did a fellowship last year). There was also condemnation from a group of the world’s largest human rights organisations, and York University, as well as touching personal blogs from Ruki’s friends: author Roma Tearne and dancer Subha Wijesiriwardena. However there is always need for more attention so please spread the word about the case.
- Friends of Ruki at York University have started a petition here and Forum Asia have one here.
We will of course keep you posted on any new developments. We’d finally like to leave you with the thought of how ridiculous it is that this man is currently in jail for fermenting ethnic discord: