Suaram expresses grave concerns on another batch of Sri Lankans arrested for suspicion of having links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The four were arrested by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division on 4th of July 2014 at different locations in Serdang, Sentul, Sungai Besi and central Kuala Lumpur.
Back on 15th May 2014, three Sri Lankans were arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police and were later forcibly deported back to Sri Lanka in secrecy. We fear that this latest round of arrest of the four may face the same fate of deportation back to their home country which they took refuge from.
While the police have yet to release their names, according to news from Australian media, one of them is Sornalingam Puvaneswaran, a Sri Lankan who has been granted asylum in Australia after being assessed by Australian immigration authorities to have a genuine fear of persecution if returned to Sri Lanka. He came to visit his family in Malaysia but was arrested by the police force on allegation of being an LTTE member.
Suaram urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia to immediately work with the Malaysian authorities to prevent deportation of Sornalingam Puvaneswaran to Sri Lanka. We also urge the Australian High Commission in Malaysia to visit Sornalingam Puvaneswaran, provide consular assistance immediately and also halt any possible deportation to Sri Lanka.
It would be appalling and a grave violation of non-refoulement principle of international customary law if Sornalingam Puvaneswaran, a person that has been granted asylum by Australia, is deported back to Sri Lanka and put his life in danger. If he were to be deported, he should be sent back to Australia instead of Sri Lanka.
The other three face allegations of attempted murder of former president Chandirka Kumartunga, helped plan attacks on Sri Lankan consulates in India and gathering intelligence information as reportedly revealed by the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to the Australian media. If these allegations are true, Suaram calls on the police to charge them and substantiate these serious allegations with evidence in the court of law in order to justify their arrest and detention in Malaysia. They must not be deported without being accorded the right to be presumed innocent before proven guilty and the right to trial.
The right to trial of the four Sri Lankans in Malaysia is of utmost importance in view of the widespread persecution of Tamil minority and those allegedly linked to the LTTE in Sri Lanka. The Malaysian government must ensure that the four Sri Lankans are not sent back to Sri Lanka merely on trump-up charges from the Sri Lankan government. This should be determined by the court rather than the immigration department of Malaysia.
We reiterate our call to the government to immediately ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its option protocol and to legislate domestic law to protect refugees and asylum seekers.