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Complaint lodged at Human Rights Commission over Vedukkunaari arrests

Six of the eight Tamils who were arrested at Vedukkunaari Hill temple in Vavuniya last month, filed a complaint at Sri Lanka's Human Rights Commission (HRC)  in Colombo after the local office in Vavuniya failed to take action over the case. 

On March 8, Last Friday (8) Sri Lanka police unleashed violence at the temple, deploying riot police and forcibly taking away devotees who were engaged in worship. Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) MP Selvarajah Kajendren was also assaulted by Sri Lankan police, and a further eight worshippers were arrested during the incident. The eight who were unlawfully detained were released after over a week in custody. 

The worshippers demanded that the HRC encourage intiating action against the Sri Lankan police officers for their abuse and mistreatment they faced from the time of their arrest. 

Whilst the eight were detained, the TNPF,  the Jaffna University Union and the  family members of the arrested, protested outside the HRC office in Vavuniya calling for a prompt investigation. 

Kajendren who visited the detainees while they were in prison inquired why the HRC did not launch an investigation, despite a formal complaint being lodged.

He questioned whether HRC was supportive of these illegal arrests and accusations as they had failed to investigate the case given that the detainees were not provided with an adequate medical evaluation even though some of them suffered from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Local Tamils in Vavuniya also staged a sit-down protest outside the Human Rights Commission office in the town, condemning the inaction by officers to investigate Sri Lanka’s arrests of the eight Tamils at the Vedukkunaari temple last week after devotees were assaulted and manhandled.

Family members of those detained by Sri Lankan authorities had already complained to the HRC over the arrests, however, they proceeded to try and meet the officials in person after finding out that the health of those engaged in the hunger strike was deteriorating. 

At the HRC office, none of the officers reportedly interacted with family members. Enraged by this, the public staged a sit-down protest in front of the HRC office demanding that their grievances be heard. An hour after the protests, an official met the family members and noted the complaints again. They reportedly assured the families that they would visit the detained Tamils in prison.

Students attached to the Jaffna University filed a formal complaint at the Human Rights Commission (HRC) office in Jaffna over the conduct of Sri Lanka police during the Shivarathri observances at the Vedukkunaari Temple in Vavuniya. The students who filed the complaint were also present on the day the prayers were held and offered their testimony to the incidents that transpired that evening. 


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