Hard to believe in a so-called enlightened and civilised society that the UK is today deporting Tamils back to Sri Lanka in the knowledge that they are likely to be killed by the brutal and undemocratic regime there.
A chartered plane, PTV030, is due to take off at 15.30 from an undisclosed London airport and fly direct to Colombo. Human-rights organisations have called on the UK Border Agency to halt the flight on the grounds that Tamils who are known to be critical of the Sri Lankan government have been brutally treated following their return.
The forced removals come as Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the architect of Sri Lanka's final victorious push three years ago against the Tamil Tigers – a military offensive which defeated the brutal insurgency group but also led to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians – flies into the UK to join the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Human Rights Watch has documented 13 credible cases over the past two years in which failed Tamil asylum-seekers from Europe have been tortured after landing in Sri Lanka, and warns that those cases are likely to be "just the tip of the iceberg".
Mr Rajapaksa's government has been accused of committing war crimes during the military offensive and of continuing to preside over a culture of impunity in which kidnap, extra-judicial killings and torture are still commonplace, particularly in the heavily militarised Tamil areas in the north.
The Foreign Office's latest report on human rights describes Sri Lanka as an area of "serious concern" when it came to abuses. But that has not stopped the UK Border Agency, which is under political pressure from the Government to ramp up deportations, from forcibly removing hundreds of Tamils in recent months."