Sri Lankan army arrests mother, 13-year old sister of disappeared youth in Wanni

Openly unleashing its violent reprisals while facing an aggressive international condemnation at the UNHRC in Geneva for extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and sexual abuses while in custody even five years after the end of the war, hawkish Sri Lankan government on Thursday got its army and the police to raid the family house of a disappeared Tamil youth in Kilinochchi, before arresting the mother and her 13-year old daughter.

According to Jaffna media reports, having lost her husband and all three sons during the war, Balendran Jeyakumari and her 13-year old daughter were staying alone in their house at the Musilampiddi housing scheme at Darmapuram in Kilinochchi, when hundreds of heavily-armed military and police personnel surrounded and raided her house, preventing access to anyone from outside.

Two of her elder sons have been killed during the war while her youngest son has been made to disappear since the end of the war in May 2009. Jeyakumari has informed the Human Rights Commission, the ICRC and the Sri Lankan prison authorities that her son's photograph had appeared in the LLRC REPORT published as a book by the Centre for Policy Alternatives and accordingly her son, Balendran Mahindan was alive and going through the government's rehabilitation program.

Former Jaffna district parliamentarian and the leader of the Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF), Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said that Jeyakumari and her daughter had taken part in several street demonstrations organised to protest against the enforced disappearances and unlawful detention of thousands of Tamil youth. 

He said that the police had snatched her phone and asked him not to call when he managed to get through to her once.

Jeyakumari and her daughter was often seen in photographs and television footage crying and screaming at demonstrations, pleading the international community and the government authorities to release their beloved ones. Their photographs and pleading video footage at the demonstration near the Jaffna library during the visit to Jaffna by the British Prime Minister David Cameron last November were widely published in many local an foreign media outlet.

The latest joint operation by the army and the police, however, has created fresh panic waves among thousands of people who have been voicing and campaigning for the release of their loved ones.

Photo: Arrested mother and daughter cry as they hold up an image of their disappeared family member during a protest in Jaffna, August 27, 2013 © Lakshman Warnakulasooriya | JDS