Sri Lankan human rights activist Ruki Fernando and Catholic priest Fr. Praveen, who were arrested in Kilinochchi on Sunday under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, have been released.
The two, who had been held in the Colombo headquarters of the Police Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), were released around midnight on Tuesday, with no charge framed against them.
Mr. Fernando, in a message on his Facebook page, attributed his safety and release to the support and concerns expressed by so many in Sri Lanka and across the world. “Let us try to help others who also need similar support,” he said.
The arrests triggered immense concern within the country and among the international community, particularly since Sri Lanka figures prominently in the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva. When the issue of their arrest was raised at the Council, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. said the two were detained as they had been engaging with a person in Kilinochchi who reportedly had links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Late Monday, international rights watchdogs, including Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists and the International Crisis Group, jointly issued a statement expressing shock and demanding their immediate release.
Meanwhile, Kilinochchi resident Balendran Jeyakumari, who was arrested along with her daughter on March 13 by the TID, still remains in police custody. She was an active participant in rallies against involuntary disappearances, raising concern over her son who reportedly went missing in the final phase of the war.
Her 13-year-old daughter, BalendranVithushaini, after a brief detention, has been ordered into probationary care.