By DR ARUJUNA SIVANANTHAN
British MPs have written to the UK’s Home Secretary expressing “serious concerns” about the arrest of Tamil activist Sockalingam Yogalingam during a peaceful protest against the visit of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister in Oxford yesterday.
Members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils urged the Home Secretary Sajid Javid to “investigate the circumstances” of the arrest, as it was reportedly “carried out at the behest of Sri Lankan government officials who were filming the protest”.
“Every UK citizen has the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Members of the UK Tamil community, including Mr Yogalingam, were taking this opportunity to express their legitimate concerns regarding the lack of accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka (…) and the on-going persecution of Tamils on the island,” the parliamentarians said.
Calling for Yogalingam’s timely release, the group urged the Home Secretary to “make immediate representations to Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK to ascertain why they believe it is appropriate for Sri Lankan officials to film UK citizens demonstrating peacefully on our streets and to seek to instruct UK police officers to take action against them.”
Copies were also sent to the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police.
Signatory MPs: Paul Scully, Siobhain McDonagh, Bob Blackman, Zac Goldsmith, Joan Ryan, Wes Streeting, Theresa Villiers, Virendra Sharma.