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Tamil MPs and activists in Geneva may be arrested on return - SL Govt minister

Tamil MPs and activists from the North-East who are in Geneva attending the UN Human Rights Council session currently underway, will be questioned and arrested on return if 'they have made statements detrimental to the unitary character of the state', said a prominent government minister to a Sinhala newspaper - Lakbima.

In an article published on Saturday in Sinhala, which has been translated into English and published on TwitLonger by former BBC journalist and author of 'Still Counting The Dead', Frances Harrison, the government minister said that Sri Lanka's intelligence services would be keeping a close eye on the statements made by TNA members and other activists in Geneva, and 'traitors' would be arrested.

Translation by Nihal Jagathchandra reproduced below:

The government internal sources revealed that a secret plan is in place to arrest the five members of the Tamil National Alliance and the NGO activists who have gone to Geneva to help the American and the European countries against Sri Lanka. They will be arrested at the Katunayake air port on their return from Geneva, if they have made statements detrimental to the unitary character of the state.

The arrests will be made according to the law of the land, since aiding and abetting as well as financially assisting any attempt to form a separate state is considered as a punishable offense under the sixth amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution. If such a charge is proved against an MP, his or her parliament membership can be suspended at least for seven years under the existing legal provisions. The government is seeking legal advise on the matter, revealed the sources.

Speaking to 'Lakbima', a prominent government minister clarified that even though the country's constitution upholds the right to travel to any part of the world and the right to free speech, no one holds any legal power or a right to make any statements considered detrimental to the unitary state. Therefore, he said, the country's intelligence agencies are keeping a close watch on all the statements made by the TNA members as well as other activists who are now in Geneva.

Also see our editorial: Tamil activism and the international community’s responsibility to protect (03 January 2013)