Diplomatic circles are currently discussing whether the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Sri Lanka was providing information on foreign refugees to the Defence Ministry.
The reason is the directive issued by the Immigration and Emigration Department under the Defence Ministry that all 150 refugees from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan leave Sri Lanka within four days. What was most troubling was the fact their reference numbers at the UNHCR office had been included in the letters sent to these refugees by the Department. These numbers had been given to the Defence Ministry by the UNHCR office in Colombo.
These persons who have been asked leave the country live in difficult conditions at the Grand Mosque in Negombo.
According to the agreement between Sri Lanka and the UNHCR, the Sri Lankan government does not have the mandate to deport any refugee who is registered with the UNHCR.
Some of the persons if deported back to Iran would directly fall into the prisons maintained of Iranian President Ahamadinejad, who is a close friends of the Rajapaksas.
Also, their deportation would be in violation of the UN policies.
In the event the Rajapaksa government deports these people who are registered with the UNHCR, the matter is to be taken up at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
The local officer who is employed as the head of providing for the refugees earning a foreign wage is Rajapaksa loyalist and Reuter’s cameraman Waruna Karunathileka’s wife, Menik Amerasinghe. There are so far no records of action taken by her to safeguard the rights of these refugees.