Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

British citizen beaten and arbitrarily detained in Sri Lanka

Updated 10 June 2016

Reports of the arbitrary detention and beating of a British Tamil citizen that arrived in Sri Lanka to visit his mother have emerged.

Mr Velauthapilai Renugaruban was beaten and forcefully arrested by two men who entered his family home in Jaffna on 2nd of June. The men informed the family that they had come to arrest Mr Renugaruban on suspicion of assisting LTTE activities in the UK. Neither an arrest warrant nor identification was provided by the two men, who dragged him out of the house and took him away in a van.

Though an official torture plea has not been extracted from Mr Renugaruban, the detainee's family and representative lawyer in Colombo claim he has been tortured in custody.

A day after Mr Renugaruban was arrested, two men alleging to be representatives of the British High Commission, visited the detainee’s mother at her family house in Jaffna, advising the family to confess that they were LTTE members so to help them negotiate Mr Renugaruban’s release. When asked for identification the two me failed to produce documents.

In response to the detention, Mr Renugaruban’s family approached the British government and human rights activists, who inquired into the case. Upon contact, the president’s advisor and Governor of the Eastern Province Mr Austin Fernando managed to locate the detained British citizen and confirm that he was in Sri Lankan police custody.  Shortly after the inquiries made by international officials, Mr Renugaruban was produced in front of the Jaffna Magistrates Court and is now officially detained until 17 June under charges of an alleged assault incident. The commander of the Sri Lanka’s Security Forces stationed in Jaffna, Major General Mahesh Senanayake, is confirmed to have contacted Mr Renugaruban’s family.

Mr Renugaruban was kept in Jaffna prison and temporarily admitted to Jaffna hospital on 7th June suffering torture inflicted injuries. He sustained deep cuts to his face and blunt trauma swelling around various parts of his body.

Mr Renugaruban’s sister, Ms Velauthapilai Lalitharuby, was a former journalist that worked in Liberation Tamil Tigers of Tamil Eelam controlled region of the Vani during the armed conflict. She currently works as a human rights campaigner and volunteer at the International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICCPG) in the UK.

In a similar incident last month, an independent researcher Mr Pushpatharan Puthirasigamani, who works for the UK based Tamil Information Centre (TIC) was abducted and severely tortured by Sri Lanka’s intelligence outfit before being deported the UK. During his detention he was asked to provide details of witness and volunteers in the UK that where working with organisation documenting human rights violations.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.