Sri Lanka Tamils resent surveillance in capital

September 24, 2008 (AFP) – Luxmi Wellamma fled her home in Sri Lanka’s war-torn north for what she hoped would be a safer life in Colombo.

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But the relative calm of the capital comes at a cost: as an ethnic Tamil from the rebel-dominated north, she is frisked and grilled by security forces whenever she moves about.

“Each time I go out, police ask lots of questions when they see my identity card,” the 54-year-old said, sitting inside a scruffy low-budget hostel in the Tamil-dominated Wellawatte area of Colombo.

“Often they tell us to go back. They say we are dangerous. They say we are LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) supporters,” said Wellamma, who fled the north along with her son 18 months ago.

Like thousands who have headed south as the war escalates, she says life for ordinary Tamils in Colombo is getting worse.

Tamils complain of frequent raids, arbitrary detentions and harassment by the police and army, which are dominated by the island’s ethnic Sinhalese majority.