January 28, 2010

Canadian Student Detained in Indonesia for 11 hours and continuing

A Canadian student and humanitarian, Jessica Chandrashekar, University of Toronto Alumni and is a PhD student from York University has been detained in Indonesia for over eleven hours by the Indonesian authorities. She has been detained along with two refugee advocates Sara Nathan and Pamela Curr from Australia. After eleven hours of their detention all three women were released overnight but were taken in for questioning again today and still have not been released. Their passports are being held by Indonesian Authorities. It is appalling and unacceptable that the Indonesian authorities are intimidating and discriminating these young foreign women.

All three women were in Indonesia to meet with Indonesian officials and arrange humanitarian supplies for the 254 Tamil refugees, who have fled Sri Lanka to escape the violence and human rights abuses. They have been living on a boat for over 100 days and are under threat of deportation back to Sri Lanka. The refugees are suffering from a depletion of food, medical supplies, unsanitary conditions and a lack of other basic needs.

Mr. Senthan Nada, the Toronto spokesperson for the Coalition to Stop the War in Sri Lanka (CTSWSL) said ‘we are very concerned for the safety and well-being of Jessica Chandrashekar a Canadian citizen and the two women from Australia.’

Sri Lanka as a democratic country fails to respect or follow the basic democratic principles such as believing in international peace and order, global economic development and the rule of international law, equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed or political belief. Tamil citizens are fleeing for their safety from Sri Lanka as systematic abductions, disappearances, arbitrary arrests; attacks, harassments, rapes, summery killings and other forms of enforced violence are still widely taking place against the minority. ‘We strongly believe that democratic countries around the world have a responsibility to protect these refugees’ said Senthan Nada.

Coalition to Stop the War in Sri Lanka calls on the Canadian Government to intervene immediately:

• To protect the three women: Jessica Chandrashekar who is a Canadian, Sara Nathan and Pamela Curr whom are Australians
• To provide adequate food, clothing and medicine to the 254 Tamil asylum seekers and refugees
• To ensure that the 254 Tamils are not deported back to Sri Lanka and given opportunity to seek refuge
• To ensure that Tamil asylum seekers are not kept in detention centres in Indonesia
• To allow humanitarian aid workers, and media to speak to the boat refugees

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