Why the UK’s deportation policy must end

By Isai Priya

Deporting political activists to Sri Lanka poses a serious threat to their lives. The current Sri Lankan government is looking more unstable and the parliament could be dissolved any time. The warmonger Mahinda Rajapaksa has confirmed that he will stand in the coming election and the political situation never looked more unstable. A no-confidence motion was passed against prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and was signed by 112 MPs.

It has been six years since the end of the bloody war but still no independent international investigation has taken place into war crimes and no justice given to the victims and survivors. The delay in the UNHRC report – which in March was put back by six months – is seen as a delay in justice to the Tamil people, and led to protests by Jaffna University students and many others. But the hoped for democratic breathing space under the new government was short lived.

Although earlier this year there was a change of government, the rights of the Tamil minority, and other oppressed people, are still being attacked. Militarisation and land grabs continue in the north and east province, where most Tamils live. Recently, the right to protest was attacked by the government following the gang rape of a schoolgirl. This sparked a countrywide protest against violence against women but the Sri Lankan government is using this as an opportunity to spark up fear that ‘terrorism’ is on the rise.

Under president Maithripala Sirisena no major change has taken place to protect political activists in Sri Lanka. They are persecuted for defending the rights of the people and continue to be imprisoned or abducted. Many still go missing and the disappearance list is on the increase. Freedom of speech and the right to protest are under attack.

Tamils continue to be arrested on return to Sri Lanka. Suresh Premachandran MP and spokesperson for the Tamil National Alliance even told the Tamil diaspora not to return to Sri Lanka – http://tamilsolidarity.org/?p=4138 – Amongst the many returnees who have been arrested, only two have been released. These people were arrested by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID).

The newly elected president not only failed to address the issues of the rights of Tamil and Muslim people, it has continued with the agenda of the previous regime. The state is whipping up fear and xenophobia to perpetuate the military occupation, and maintains the culture of impunity through the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The recent report, ‘The Long Shadow of War: Struggle for Justice in Post War Sri Lanka’, by the US-based Oakland Institute think-tank, finds that thousands of people continue to be missing since the war ended in spite on the government’s promise to engage in a process of truth and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka is not a safe place to send back those who have fled that country to save their lives. Deporting political activists back to Sri Lanka puts them at real danger of arrest on arrival, and the high risk of torture, and their disappearance.

Tamil Solidarity demands an end to the deportation of political activists to Sri Lanka. We defend and campaign for the right to asylum.