Four Jaffna students taken to Welikanda military detention camp

Four Jaffna University students, including its Union leader V. Bavanandan and secretary P. Darshananth, have been taken to the notorious Welikanda military detention camp, where hundreds of former Tamil Tiger rebels are still being detained and interrogated, their parents have been told on Monday (10).

24 year-old Medical Faculty student Darshananth of Kantharmadam, Arts Faculty Union President Kanakasundaraswami Jenamejeyan (24) of Puthukkudiyiruppu, Science Faculty Union member Shamugam Solomon (24) of Jaffna were arrested along with Students’ Union leader V. Bavanandan on December 29 and 30 by the Sri Lankan police in Jaffna and later taken away to Vavuniya by its Terrorism Investigation Division (TID).

“When we went to the Vavuniya TID office to visit our sons, they were not to be seen and we were rudely told that they have been send to the Welikanda detention camp,” one of the parents has told the media sources in Jaffna, expressing fears about their safety.

The parents or next of kin have not been told the reason for transferring their loved ones to the Welikanda detention camp. The Welikanda detention camp became notorious as a ‘torture chamber’ following the end of the government’s declared victory over the LTTE in May 2009. Several hundreds of top LTTE cadres are kept at this detention camp and some of them have reportedly gone 'missing' while being deained.  

Raising panic waves

This actions by the Sri Lanka’s defence authority to have arrested these students under the provisions of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and now transferring them to the Welikanda military detention camp, have added fuel to the existing fire of fear among the parents and Jaffna students society as a whole.   

Under the PTA, enacted in 1979, the defence secretary can order to detain a person in police custody for 90 days without being produced before the courts.

While transferring these four students to the Welikanda detention camp, the police have also released seven other students, who were arrested along with them, on Monday.K. Sanjeevan, S. Prasanna, S. Sasikanth, S. Janahan and T. Aparajithan of Jaffna Medical Faculty, P. Sabeskumar of Management Faculty and S. Renuraj of Science Faculty were leased by the TID at a meeting with their parents and respective faculty deans.

Colombo media blackout dismayed

Several activists in Jaffna who spoke to JDS,  expressed dismay that many news media in Colombo, including some of the western media, have chosen to ignore these dangerous developments in Jaffna for the past two weeks.

“It is rather pathetic to note that some Colombo-based media outlets, who purposefully refrained from carrying news stories relating to the arrests and problem faced by the students in Jaffna, have carried the release of the seven students as their headline story,” as activist said, urging the media to report unbiased.  

Northern Regional Co-ordinator of Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (HRC), T. Kanakarajah said that the HRC office in Jaffna has received 20 complaints from parents and next of kin by the end of Monday (10).   

Many arrests remain unreported to the HRC due to fear of police and military reprisals.


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