‘Horrendously tortured’: Activists resist deportation of 22 y/o Sri Lankan Tamil

(Сourtesy of Tamil Solidarity)
Trade unionists and campaigners will hold a protest on Friday in solidarity with a young South Yorkshire man who was “horrendously tortured” in Sri Lanka. Despite this trauma, he faces possible deportation by the UK government.

Janahan Sivanathan was allegedly tortured in 2009 as a school student during Sri Lanka’s grueling civil war (1983-2009). His supporters say he was then held prisoner for a ten-day period by Sri Lankan authorities.

Sivanathan, who lives in Stainforth, Doncaster, was detained in a UK immigration detention center following his last meeting with Home Office staff. Although the Tamil man’s case is due to be heard on July 15, social justice group Tamil Solidarity says he may be detained again.

Speaking to RT on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Tamil Solidarity said Sri Lanka’s previous government presided over a land grab in the troubled state. The conflict was also blighted by multiple incidences of rape, she said.

Sivanathan’s mental health has been adversely impacted by the torture and abuse he endured at the close of Sri Lanka’s bloody war. Tamil Solidarity says the British government have yet to hear many vital details of the young man’s case. It insists his life will be endangered if he is deported to Sri Lanka.

In a bid to raise awareness of Sivanathan’s plight, asylum rights activists will gather outside Home Office depot Vulcan House in Sheffield on Friday.

A genocide was perpetrated against Sri Lanka’s Tamil people in 2009, with an estimated 100,000 left dead or missing. Human rights campaigners say the state’s security forces are “notorious” for torturing the besieged ethnic group.

A recent Foreign Office report on Sri Lanka said allegations “of police involvement in torture and custodial deaths” prevail in the troubled state. It also found “extrajudicial killings” continued throughout the course of 2014.

Sivanathan is at acute risk as a result of his campaign work with the Tamil Solidarity group, his supporters warn. In an effort to raise awareness of the crisis Tamils face, the 22-year-old took part in London protests against Prime Minister David Cameron’s planned visit to Sri Lanka in 2013.

Cameron’s trip was scheduled ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that year.

Sivanathan also protested against Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to London in 2015.

Speaking on Wednesday, Tamil Solidarity stressed Sri Lanka is a dangerous environment for exiles.

“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,” the group said.

“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.”

Protest organizer Alistair Tice warned Sivanathan’s life will be endangered if the government deport him to Sri Lanka.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

RT asked the British Home Office how it can justify deporting Sivanathan to Sri Lanka. A spokesperson is yet to respond.