Tamils in Sri Lankan capital pay price of Tiger bombs

Dec 9, 2007 (AFP) – Minority Tamils in Sri Lanka’s capital are running a gauntlet of arrest and intimidation as fighting escalates between government troops and Tiger rebels, community members and rights groups say.

Harassed at security checkpoints and arbitrarily arrested from their homes and workplaces, Colombo’s Tamil’s are being subjected to what human rights groups have described as “collective punishment.”

Last weekend, at least 2,200 Tamils were rounded up by security forces — days after twin bomb attacks in Colombo left 21 people dead and over 40 wounded.

Mary Sinniah, 64, had to travel to Colombo from Kahawatte in the island’s southeast to find her 22-year-old son Perumal Raja, a labourer who was detained during the crackdown.

“The police said he did not have proper papers. They said he was a terrorist suspect,” Sinniah told AFP.

According to her son, there was no justification for his arrest.

“I was sweeping outside the restaurant where I work when the army came and asked for my identification papers. I showed them my national ID card and the police report, but they took me away,” Raja insisted.

Unlike members of the majority ethnic Sinhalese community, local police req