ACTC leader's Jaffna trip stalls

[TamilNet, Friday, 27 August 1999, 16:53 GMT]
The leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam was denied an air ticket to Jaffna today because he had not obtained permission from the Ministry of Defence for visiting the north.

Mr.Ponnambalam, a leading lawyer in Colombo, is representing the interests of the kith and kin of the persons who went missing in Jaffna in 1996 and 97 after being arrested by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).

The court proceedings on Chemmani are to resume on Monday, August 30.

Mr. Ponnambalam had pointed out to officials at Heli-Tours, the firm that currently operates civilian flights between Jaffna and Colombo, that he as a Sri Lankan citizen does not need any permission or clearance to travel to any part of the country.

Heli-Tours, however, told Mr.Ponnabalam that no one could be issued a ticket to Jaffna without the necessary clearance from the ministry of defence.

The ACTC leader then contacted an SLA officer at the MOD and explained to him that it was not necessary for him (Mr.Ponnambalam) under Sri Lankan law to obtain the army's permission to visit Jaffna or any other part of the country.

One of the fundamental rights entrenched in Sri Lanka's constitution is the inalienable right of any of its citizen to travel to any part of the island.

Nevertheless, the matter was not resolved today said sources at the MOD. They said that Mr.Ponnambalam will meet with the secretary of defence, Mr.Chandrananda de Silva tomorrow to take up the matter.


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