Viral footage has shown Sri Lanka police dragging Jaffna Tamils away and forcing them to quarantine. In a special operation carried out today by Jaffna police under the instruction of Chief Inspector, Prasad Fernando, at least 20 Tamils in Jaffna were arrested for allegedly not wearing masks or following social distancing measures.
This footage comes as the Sri Lanka military has intensified its crackdown on the North-East with a series of arrests under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. There have been a number of Tamils and Muslims arrested under the PTA including high profile political figures such as Jaffna's Mayor, Viswalingam Manivannan, as well as former Sri Lankan minister and leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), MP Rishad Bathiudeen.
— Kavinthan (@Kavinthans) May 5, 2021
Sri Lanka’s military response towards the coronavirus pandemic has garnered criticism with Boram Jang, Legal Advisor at the International Commission of Jurists Asia & the Pacific Programme, stating that;
“The manner in which the Sri Lankan Government and the military have handled the recent outbreak among the workers has been deeply troubling… [the] absence of judicial oversight is in clear violation of basic COVID-19 regulations adhered by the Government. At the heart of all these problems lies a heavily militarised and politicised COVID-19 response”
Sri Lanka’s coronavirus response is led by accused war criminal, and head of the Sri Lankan army, Shavendra Silva. Silva served as the commander of the 58th division during Sri Lanka’s military offensive in 2009 which stands accused of executing surrendering Tamils, sexual violence and the deliberate shelling of hospitals.