The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) charged the approval process required for travel to the North as yet another inhuman and unjustified attack on the minorities.
“This is an irritant and will cause a lot of national and international problems for the government. When the task is to get these communities into the mainstream and integrate them, such moves will only create further divisions,” BASL Standing Committee on Rule of Law Chairman and Lawyers for Democracy Convenor Lal Wijenayake told Ceylon Today.
Describing the move as an economic blockade, he questioned the re-establishing the Colombo-Jaffna Yal-Devi train operation when free movement had been curtailed.
These enforced regulations would create and aggravate the already established view, among the international community, that the Tamils were a set of people who were being harassed and were being treated as second-class citizens without equal rights, Wijenayake said.
“We are losing economically, and this move has affected the economy of Jaffna a lot.
“People who left the North-East to greener pastures abroad, during the war, when the LTTE held sway, are now are in a position to help their relations and parents here. They send money here. Making it difficult for these people who have already had a bad experience in the past, to come and see the reality now, is wrong. They will be scared of being detained and of being followed if they have to seek permission from the army prior to entering,” Wijenayake said.
Foreign governments have now informed tourists, through travel advisories, not to go to the North and if they do, it would be at their own risk, he said.
Military Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasuriya was not available for comment.
No restrictions on travellers to North – Military spokesman
Military Spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya yesterday said foreign passport holders would not be prevented from travelling to the North if they were able to meet the requirements specified by the Defence Ministry.
“The government has imposed no restrictions on foreigners travelling to the north and some have been stopped from going there as they could not give valid reasons for their travel, the Military Spokesman, said. “There are certain elements who want to travel to the north for sinister purposes and hence the government has been compelled to take precautions” Wanigasooriya said. Asked why some foreign package tour groups had been turned back when they reached Jaffna, the Brigadier said, no bona fide traveler would be treated in that manner.