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Tamil school teacher summoned by Sri Lanka's TID

Sinnarasa Siventhiran, a government school teacher in Kilinochchi, has been summoned by the Sri Lanka's Terrorism Investigation Department (TID), in an entirely Sinhala language notice, to its head office in Colombo for an investigation. 

Siventhiran has launched an official complaint with the Human Rights Commission against the summon contending that he has committed no crimes and the summon is an act of intimidation to his normal course of life. 

He has stressed that with the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in the island, travelling to the South would give him health complications. 

Siventhiran’s brother Sinnarasa Sivaranjan was forcibly disappeared by Sri Lankan state authorities towards the end of the armed conflict between the state and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). 

In his letter to the Human Rights Commission, Siventhiran wrote: “As we are still searching for my brother Sinnarasa Sivaranjan, who was disappeared during the end of the war, the summon sent to me, an innocent person who is engaged in the work of educating, can only be seen as intimidation and a cause of confusion to my normal life.” 

Siventhiran alleged in his complaint that TID officials came to his house in late February whilst he was at work and gave a note to his mother that instructed him to appear at TID Colombo office on March 4. 

“I learned of the incident and approached the TID in Kilinochchi. Asked about the summon, they told me they knew nothing about it and asked me to go to the given location,” Siventhiran said. 

When he told the authorities that he wouldn’t be able to go to Colombo on the given date due to health reasons, he was told that a different date would be allotted. 

“Later, they telephoned me to instruct that I appear at the TID head office in Colombo.” 

“As a teacher teaching at a school where over 500 students study and more than 30 teachers work, it would threaten their health if I returned to duty after making a trip to southern Sri Lanka through the common means of transport. Therefore, investigating me in Kilinochchi would only be appropriate,” Siventhiran emphasised. 

He further stressed that since “I am a teacher who has committed no crimes, and engaged in the work of educating, the TID summon to Colombo acts as a blot on my personal honour and creates confusion and intimidation to my normal life.”  

The TID has been notorious for investigating Tamil civilians, civil society activists and families of the disappeared. Furthermore, the TID has been known to use torture and sexual violence for decades. The summon of Siventhiran is the latest in a series of cases of interrogations that the TID has subjected Tamils to. 

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