Press release for immediate use 11-6-15
Sheffield campaigners to stage solidarity protest for Tamil asylum seeker (from Doncaster) tomorrow
Protest at the Home Office, Vulcan House, Millsands, Sheffield, S3 8NU Friday 12 June at 1:30pm
Protest to demand right to stay for Tamil torture victim Local trade unionists, socialists and asylum rights campaigners are staging a solidarity protest tomorrow/Friday 12th June at the Home Office in Sheffield in support of a 22 year old South Yorkshire man threatened with deportation.
Supporters say that Janahan Sivanathan (photo attached), a Sri Lankan Tamil who lives in Stainforth, Doncaster, was “horrendously tortured” as a school student during the war in Sri Lanka, after he was rounded up and held captive for ten days in 2009.
Janahan was detained last time he reported at the Home Office and could be again tomorrow despite his case being due to be heard in court on 15 July. Campaigners are holding a solidarity protest tomorrow outside the Home Office building to demand that Janahan is not detained and be allowed to stay in the country.
Protest organiser Alistair Tice said “There was a genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2009 with 100,000 killed or missing. Sri Lanka’s security forces are notorious for torturing Tamils. The UK Foreign Office’s latest report on Sri Lanka found that “There were continued allegations of police involvement in torture and custodial deaths, as well as in extrajudicial killings throughout 2014.”
Janahan is at particular risk because of his political activities with the Tamil Solidarity group. He participated in London protests against Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to Sri Lanka ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2013 and against President Sirisena’s visit to London in 2015.
Sri Lankan intelligence services hold a black-list of politically active Tamil expatriates. Although a new president was elected in January 2015, the list remains in use by immigration officers at Colombo Airport.
That’s why we are demanding that Janahan be allowed to stay, his life really would be in danger if he was forced to return.”
Below is the national Press Release from Tamil Solidarity:
Tamil Solidarity demands an end to deportation of political activists to Sri Lanka. A solidarity protest has been called in support of Janahan Sivanathan at the time he is due to report to the Home Office.
A young torture victim is in fear of being detained and then deported to Sri Lanka where his life will be under threat. Janahan Sivanathan (age 22) was detained at Morton Hall, Lincolnshire when he went to report to the Home Office last Monday 1 June.
Campaign group Tamil Solidarity says that he should not have been detained in the first place especially when he has never been given an opportunity to properly put his case. Tamil Solidarity demands his right to stay and opposes all deportations of political activists to Sri Lanka.
Isai from Tamil Solidarity explains: “After Janahan was detained hundreds of people including leading trade unionists, MPs and other activists supported a petition demanding his release and the end to all deportations of political activists to Sri Lanka. Under this immense pressure the Home Office suddenly released Janahan on Friday but he has been asked to report back to Home Office this Friday 12 June. There is a possibility that he could be detained again despite his case being due to be heard in court on 15 July.
“Janahan experienced detention and torture during the war in Sri Lanka that ended in 2009. Unsurprisingly his mental health is suffering. Keeping him in the prison-like environment in the Immigration Removal Centre has made this worse. But Janahan is also a fighter for human rights. He went from his release to bring solidarity to a conference of the bakers’ union BFAWU and to build the campaign against deportations of political activists.
“Amnesty International and other research shows that Sri Lanka is not a safe place to send back those who have fled that country to save their lives. Following on from his campaign, Janahan’s photo and story have featured in all the major Tamil media and Sri Lankan national news. This makes it even more dangerous for Janahan to be deported to Sri Lanka. We fear that on return to Sri Lanka he will be certain of being arrested, imprisoned or even worse.”
Returning political activists to Sri Lanka poses a serious threat to their lives. It has been six years since the end of the bloody war against the LTTE but still there has been no independent international investigation into the alleged war crimes into the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Tamils and no justice given to the victims and survivors. What’s more reports show evidence that the trampling of democratic rights and huge repression of the Tamil people continues unabated.