Activists en route to Mullaitivu denied entry
- Blames orders from atop
- PSMs calls for probe on continued detention of PCR-negative activists
BY Pamodi Waravita and Buddhika Samaraweera
Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU) President Priyantha Fernando, who claims he was stopped on multiple occasions on his way yesterday (15) to visit CTU Secretary Joseph Stalin, who along with others are detained at the Mullaitivu Quarantine Centre operated by the Army, told The Morning that he believes that this thwarting was the result of planned orders from higher authorities.
“I was accompanied by other activists from Anuradhapura and Vavuniya, and we all had permission from our respective local government authorities to travel to Mullaitivu. We went in four vehicles, which were stopped a total of five times at security posts from Omanthai onwards. Two of the four vehicles were stopped at the second security post from Omanthai and not allowed to proceed. The two that went ahead were stopped for an hour at Mullivaikkal. When we finally arrived at the Quarantine Centre, about 100 police and army officers were present. We gave the food we had brought for our fellow activists to the Commander there,” said Fernando. He condemned these actions by the authorities.
Over 31 arrests of activists, trade unionists, and students were made last week at the protests condemning the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence National University (KDNU) Bill. Although bail was later granted to these arrestees, approximately 16 of them, including Stalin, were then forcibly sent to quarantine centres for 14 days. This has received widespread condemnation from many parties, including the country’s main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB), the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), the Lawyers for Social Justice organisation, and United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer-Hamdy.
Speaking to the media yesterday, Joint Council for Professions of Supplementary Medicine (JCPSM) President Ravi Kumudesh said that the health service is responsible for the continued detention of union activists, including Stalin, whose PCR test reports have confirmed that they are not infected.
“Public Security Minister Dr. Sarath Weerasekera has claimed that the Health Ministry is responsible for the detention of trade union activists. Then those claims must be investigated,” added Kumudesh.
Multiple habeas corpus petitions have been filed about the detention of trade unionists and activists.