3RD LEAD (UPDATE)

500 Tamils expelled in 8 buses from Colombo

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 June 2007, 09:44 GMT]
Around 500 Tamils were forcefully expelled from the lodges in Colombo Thursday morning by the Sri Lankan Police, and a further 300 are being detained in Pettah (Peaddai) police station due to lack of transport. Persons lodged in Colombo for medical treatment, travel, family re-union, study and in search of jobs, were packed in 8 buses and sent out of Colombo to the east and Vavuniyaa with Police escort. Three buses were heading to Vavuniyaa and 5 buses were on their way to Batticaloa, according to the latest information from the Police.

Remaining persons in lodges, irrespective of their travel and other needs, were told they would be arrested if they failed to vacate the lodges within 3 days.

All the lodge owners were instructed not to lodge people for more than 3 days.

Two buses have reached Vavuniyaa Gamini Maha Vidyalaya with 75 people. UNHCR officials co-ordinating with Vavuniyaa District Government Agent, Sinnathamby Shanmugam, were seen making necessary arrangements, informed sources said.

Mano Ganesan MP of the Western Province People’s Front (WPPF), speaking in the Sri Lankan Parliament Thursday charged that the "humiliation of this magnitude ultimately points at a policy of gradual eviction of Tamils from Colombo."

Sri Lankan Government Spokesman and the SL minister, Keheliya Rambukwelle, in Sri Lankan Parliament Thursday said that the Tamils from Colombo lodges had "voluntarily come forward to be sent out of Colombo," and that the GoSL was transporting them "free of charge."

Ranil Wickramasinghe, the opposition leader, responding to the statement by Mr. Rambukwelle in the Sri Lankan parliament, stated that the Tamils were being expelled from Colombo on a discriminatory way, violating the article 11 of the Sri Lankan constitution, and compared the current situation in Sri Lanka to the humanitarian tragedies that took place for Jews in Germany, Palesitians in Middle East and Blacks in South Africa in the past.

R. Sampanthan, the Parliamentary Group Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) charged that the Police had expelled Tamils in a "gruesome manner treating the lodgers like animals."

Suresh Premachandran, the Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian for Jaffna questioned if expulsion was the solution to the problem. He said the SL Government should consider pulling back the Sri Lankan troops from traditional Tamil areas and let the Tamils live in the Northeast peacefully.

A 70-year-old man in West Court Lodge in Messenger Street was among the oldest persons to be ousted from Colombo. He had come to Colombo to see send-off his son to a foreign country. Both, he and his son were sent in the bus.

Persons who had medical appointment Friday were forced to board the buses, and were told to comeback from Vavuniyaa to medical treatment at the appropriate time.


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