A human rights activist, Ruki Fernando who visited Iranathivu Island, told MediaLK that he was informed by Navy personnel serving on the island that no one other than its residents would be allowed to enter the island.
The Navy informed him and a group of journalists who were on their way to Iranathivu Island that they have received orders from higher ranks to restrict any visitors to the island.
When inquired, the Kilinochchi District Secretary said that no such ban or order has been issued, he said.
“When we arrived there to get to the island, the navy told us that we cannot go there. They said that they had been ordered to restrict visitors. We went there at about 9am and waited until about 3.30pm to get to the island but we were not granted permission.
I called the District Secretariat. But he said that no such order had been issued. And also the Free Media Movement had spoken to the Director General of Government Information and he had also said that he was not aware of such a ban. After that the Free Media Movement had contacted the Minister of Mass Media. The Minister had also said that he was not aware of such ban. After that, I informed the Human Rights Commission. To Jaffna office and Colombo office. They told me that they will look into this and inform. But no reply was received until 3.30 pm.
We were not notified if it is banned or of its legal basis. Media had brought up Iranathivu recently. But it was mentioned nowhere that the island was closed to public. People on the island continue to protest for their demands. They demand that the island shall not be used for Covid 19 victims burial.
How can the freedom mentioned in a chapter of the Constitution be barred like this? If such a ban has been imposed, then why no notice has been issued so far. Minister of Mass Media had recently commented with the media about Iranathivu. The Director General of Health also spoke about it and told about the procedure and limitations of burial. But even in those speeches, it was not said that one cannot go to homes or go to church on the island. ”
When inquired about this, Navy Media Spokesman Indika de Silva said that no one other than the residents of Iranathivu Island is allowed to enter the island.
“Only the outsiders has been barred from entering the island,” he said.
When asked about the basis of this ban, he said it is only due to the burial of Covid 19 victims.