A Tamil rights activist campaigning for the families of those ‘disappeared’ in Sri Lankan military custody is tonight herself being held, along with her 13 year old daughter, at an unknown location.
Earlier today Sri Lankan police and soldiers entered Balendran Jeyakumari’s home in Tharmapuram, as hundreds of troops were deployed in the area.
Local residents told the Uthayan newspaper late this evening they had seen Ms. Jeyakumari and her daughter being arrested and taken away by police.
TNPF leader, Gajen Ponnambalam, who was able to speak briefly to Ms. Jeyakumari soon after the raid began, said she was being threatened for taking part in protests by families of the disappeared. Ms. Jeyakumari’s son is one of the missing.
Ms. Jeyakumari, and her young daughter, Vipoosika, gained prominence during British Prime Minister Cameron’s visit to Jaffna in November, with Vipoosika’s desperate pleas for the return of her missing brother gaining widespread coverage.
Ms. Jeyakumari had said that when troops entered the house, they asked specifically for her daughter, Mr Ponnambalam told Tamil Guardian.
He said that the army then moved Ms. Jeyakumari and her family to another house in the neighbourhood, adding that when he had called Ms Jeyakumari’s phone, a police officer had snatched her phone mid-conversation and, speaking in Sinhalese, told him not to call back and that “the matter was under investigation.”
Around 500-750 military personnel are reported to have been deployed in the neighbourhood, according to local residents.
According to local journalists, when asked why the military had surrounded Ms. Jeyakumari’s home, a police official claimed that police officers in Kilinochchi had been shot at when searching for a wanted person and that the rights activist was suspected of sheltering the suspect.
See video for Ms Jeyakumari and her daughter during a protest last November:
'Give us our brother!' (13 Nov 2013)