ACT justice and peace worker in Sri Lanka arrested
The executive secretary for justice and peace in the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka has been arrested by a government terrorism investigation unit. Mr Santha Fernando was detained at Colombo's international airport and taken in for questioning, while he was on his way to a meeting in India. He has been held in detention for one week. According to a report by the organisation, Media Freedom in Sri Lanka, the Ministry for Defence has issued a detention order for 30 days to keep Mr Fernando in the Terrorism Investigation Division.
The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) has requested that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expedite the case and the NCCSL general secretary, Dr Jeyasiri Peiris, has offered cooperation with the investigation. Dr Peiris has assured that Mr Fernando "is a person who is least likely to engage in any unlawful or separatist activity." The general secretary will also be contacting the leadership of the Terrorism Investigation Division.
The NCCSL is a member of the global alliance, ACT International, which is engaged in humanitarian assistance in Sri Lanka. Mr Fernando's wife, family and others have visited him and will continue to do so. He has also been visited by a lawyer in the presence of the authorities. Dr Peiris reports that Mr Fernando is well and says, "We call for prayers for him and his wife and family and the process of investigations. We are appreciative of the various inquiries made about him and thank all for your concern and prayers."
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide. Media contacts: Tomm Kristiansen, Communications Officer (office: +41 22 791 6039 / mobile: +41 79 358 3171 / firstname.lastname@example.org ) Sidney Traynham, Assistant Communications Officer (office: +41 22 791 6711 / mobile: +41 79 681 1868 / email@example.com )
Reuters and AlertNet 2 April 2009