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Jun 08, 2007 at 05:16pm IST

Lanka stops Tamil ethnic cleansing

New Delhi: After the Sri Lanka Police on Thursday sent back more than 300 Tamils staying in Colombo to their home regions in the north and east of Sri Lanka, the Supreme Court of the land has stepped in and ordered an immediate halt on the eviction.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court issued the order following a petition filed by a political activist group, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), which argued that Thursday's action was a violation of basic human rights.

"The court will hear the case on June 22," an official was quoted by news agency PTI as saying, adding that police Inspector General Victor Perera and four officers in charge of police stations here were restrained from carrying out any eviction pending the court hearing.

A CPA spokeswoman said they will go before the apex court seeking redress for those already evicted.

The ethnic cleansing -at gunpoint- comes amid fears that the LTTE may have infiltrated into the city and could be planning large scale attacks.

Tamil men, women and children, who had taken shelter at low-budget hostels were forced out of their rooms, ordered into buses and driven off under armed escorts, residents said.

Officials say 291 men and 85 women were sent in seven buses, six of which are heading towards the northern district of Vavuniya and one busload to the eastern district of Batticaloa.

Authorities were also not allowing heavy vehicles to travel out of the northern and eastern regions to the rest of the country.

Observers were shocked at what they said was a serious violation of human


A guest house owner, Razzar Mohhamed said, "The police came around early in the morning saying that those who were staying at my guest house must be sent back. About 15 single people were rounded up and taken to the police station saying they would be provided free transport to return their villagers. I have about 34 rooms and all who were taken away were single men. Families were given one week to go back."

The government blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for bomb attacks in and around the capital last week.

The national parliament was in uproar over the forced eviction with ethnic Tamil MPs disrupting proceedings to protest the police action, officials said.

Tamil MP's were protesting against the police forcibly taking away the Tamils in buses," a parliamentary official said. The proceedings were suspended and party leaders went in for an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis.

Many Tamils complain they are being deliberately targeted by the security forces, detained and searched.

Rights groups have reported hundreds of abductions and disappearances blamed on both government and LTTE sides.

Sri Lanka has been facing mounting criticism both from abroad and at home over the crackdown on minority Tamils.

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