Sri Lanka's anti terror squad grills priest, school teachers over Tamil poetry book

A Catholic priest who narrowly survived the final phase of the war in Sri Lanka has been questioned by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) over a book of Tamil poetry he wrote called 'Uyirpathivu' which literally translates as, “Life Records”.

The priest was allowed to be accompanied by a colleague and was questioned on Wednesday (03) by three officers from TID in the Jaffna Bishop’s house. The interrogation focused on aerial bomb attacks on churches and schools that the priest witnessed during the last months of the war in 2009 and wrote about in his poems. The significance of an aerial bombing is that it can only have been carried out by the Sri Lankan government forces as they were the only ones with supersonic Kfir jets.

TID also questioned the priest about poetry that mentioned the erection of new Buddha Statutes along the main highway, the A9, through the former conflict zone. The government move to accelerate Sinhalisation and militarisation of traditionally Tamil areas has drawn severe criticism from various quarters during the last five years .

Meanwhile, at least three school principals in Kilinochchi were also grilled by the TID during the week over their role in distributing the poetry book in the area. Speaking to media on Thursday, a spokesman from the Ceylon Teachers Union strongly condemned the move as 'outrageous' and said that the several principals have received the book by post as it was sent to them by a Tamil parliamnetarian in the area.

"It is just a book of poetry. If people can be summoned and questioned for reading poems, that demonstrates the level of free expression prevailing in the north" he said.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.