The Sri Lankan police have arrested two rights activists under an anti-terrorism law to prevent them from spreading "communal disharmony" in the country's war-torn northern region, ahead of voting on a resolution against the country at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
"Two people were arrested at 10.30 on Sunday night under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. They were acting so as to promote communal disharmony," police spokesman Ajith Rohana said. The arrests came ahead a key meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later this month that is expected to pass a United States-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka over its alleged rights abuses during the ethnic war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels.
Human rights groups said the arrested activists were Father Praveen, director of the Jaffna-based Center for Peace and Reconciliation and Ruki Fernando of the Colombo-based INFORM, a human rights documentation center.
They were arrested from the northern town of Kilinochchi. The Kilinochchi's police chief said, "Ruki Fernando and Rev Praveen behaved in a suspicious manner as they visited some families of those who have lost their family members."
The UNHRC resolution is the third in as many years on Sri Lanka's accountability and reconciliation with the Tamil minority after the end of the 37-year ethnic conflict.
Up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed at the end of the separatist war in 2009, rights groups and UN experts have said. Sri Lanka has long resisted calls for an international investigation calling its own domestic processes were credible enough to deal with the allegations of civilian deaths.