Sri Lanka arrests Tamil woman who pressed case for war-missing son

Updated - November 16, 2021 07:24 pm IST

Published - March 15, 2014 03:24 am IST

A Sri Lankan court ordered a woman held for questioning on Friday in what human rights activists said was part of the government's continuing efforts to intimidate families of the country's civil war-missing into silence. Her 13-year-old daughter who was also arrested was referred to child care officials, an activist said.

Balendran Jeyakumari was ordered to be detained for 16 days under the country's tough anti-terrorism law and her daughter was kept in the care of probation officials, a rights activist said on condition of anonymity fearing military reprisals.

The two were arrested in the northern Kilinochchi district Thursday night after hundreds of military and police held them house-bound for hours.

Ms. Jeyakumari had been vocal in calling for the release of her 15-year-old son, a child recruit of the Tamil Tiger rebels whom she had handed to the military as fighting ended in 2009. Both the mother and daughter have been in the forefront of protests demanding details of war missing and were prominently featured in media photographs and videos including when British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the country last year.

Ms. Jeyakumari has a strong case against the government because it published a photograph of her son in a government book depicting rehabilitation of rebel fighters, a proof that he was in fact in government custody. However authorities won't give details of him. His mother is also a leader in mobilizing families of missing persons in her neighborhood, the activist said.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said Ms. Jeyakumari was arrested for harbouring a criminal who he says was hiding at her home and shot at officers during a raid. He claimed the daughter was not arrested but taken in "for her own protection."}

Tamil National Alliance the major political party representing ethnic Tamils had earlier expressed fear for their safety because officials had not brought them to court soon enough.

The rights activist said several family members of missing persons in Sri Lanka's former war zone have been silenced after being arrested under fabricated charges.

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