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‘No Tamil can expect a fair trial in Sri Lanka’

[The Sunday Leader.lk, Sunday, 20 September 2009 09:11 No Comment]

David Poopalapillai Ratnarajah Thusiyanthan is a Canadian. He was working for a World Bank funded project in Colombo as an IT consultant. He is 35-years-old and from the Toronto area. He immigrated to Canada in 1989. He had temporarily left Canada in 2002 for Sri Lanka where he got married and had a child. He wants to come back to Canada with his family. Ratnarajah lived with his wife and his two-and-half year daughter. On April 29, he was arrested outside his workplace in Colombo and has been in prison ever since. He was among several arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, described by both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as “draconian.” HRW has noted the Sri Lankan government uses emergency regulations to arrest and detain political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders, and members of the Tamil minority community. Currently, there are no charges against him.

Prisoners at the Colombo prison where  Thusiyanthan is being held began a hunger strike on the morning of September 17, 2009 to protest their detention without charge and lack of due process.

The Sunday Leader spoke to the Canadian Tamil Congress Spokesman, David Poopalapillai:

By Ruwan Yapa Our foreign correspondent

Q: Ratnarajah Thusiyanthan has been in jail since April without charges, is this something that commonly occurs in Sri Lanka, where people are held without charges?

A: Yes. Since the late 1970s, arresting and holding people without charges has become very common under the notorious PTA as well as other measures, such as emergency regulations.

Q: Ratnarajah Thusiyanthan was a Canadian, do you know if the Canadian government is doing anything to secure his release?

A: As far as we know, the Canadian government only came to know recently about this arrest and they are working on it.

Q: In your view do you think the Canadian government is doing enough?

A: As far as we know, when the Canadian government comes to know about any Canadians being held in Sri Lanka, they pay attention to the cases. 

Q: Can you describe what Prevention of Terrorism Act means to most Tamils at this time?

A: The PTA is one of the most draconian acts in the world as it has destroyed the lives of many innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka. I am not the only one calling it draconian, so has Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

Q: You were interviewed one time in regards to a similar situation, and you responded by saying ‘Arresting Tamils, it’s a daily occurrence and sometimes they twist the story.’ Do you feel this is still the case in Sri Lanka? 

A: Yes, actually, arresting Tamils is a lucrative money-making industry for law enforcement officials in Sri Lanka.

[Full Coverage]

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