Scot documenting protests in Sri Lanka has passport seized by authorities

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Kayleigh Fraser, from St Andrews, said six immigration officers showed up on her doorstep on Tuesday claiming she had breached the terms of her visa.

The 34-year-old said they demanded to have her passport “otherwise they would handcuff me”.

Ms Fraser said she was then told to wait seven days for an ‘investigation’ to be carried out before she could collect her documents.

Kayleigh Fraser, a Scotswoman living in Sri Lanka, who campaigned for activists protesting the country’s economic crisis

The day before, she said she received a “panicked” phone call from an employee of the company that issued her visa telling her to leave the country immediately as authorities were investigating her.

The British citizen spoke out on social media about the ongoing protests in Colombo which, since Ranil Wickremesinghe took office on July 21, have been managed by “the intimidation, surveillance and arbitrary arrests of protesters , civil society activists, lawyers and journalists,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Ms Fraser said: ‘They accosted me on the street and stood outside my house for about 40 minutes but they couldn’t even tell me what I had done wrong.

“They kept saying I violated my visa conditions, but they didn’t even know what visa I was on until they finally got my passport.

Fraser, of St Andrews, said six immigration officers showed up at her door on Tuesday claiming she had breached the terms of her visa.

“I didn’t feel safe.”

Ms Fraser videotaped her interaction with officials after claiming two of them tried to break into her home to get her passport.

She can be heard telling them that she feels harassed for bringing attention to the continuing issues facing the Sri Lankan public, such as inflation and fuel shortages.

Since the video was posted on her social media pages, Ms Fraser said campaigning lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku, secretary general of the Vinivida Foundation, had contacted her to help with her case.

She said the couple were due to meet with officials from the country’s immigration and emigration department on Monday, in hopes of getting their passports back.

Ms Fraser first visited Sri Lanka in 2019. She spent time during the coronavirus lockdowns in Germany before returning to the island last year on a medical visa.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the president of Sri Lanka, renewed the country’s state of emergency when he took power late last month, which he said was “in the interests of public safety”. .

A state of emergency allows troops to arrest and detain suspects, and the president to issue regulations superseding existing laws to deal with any unrest.

Ms Fraser has said over the past two weeks she believes between 40 and 50 people have been arrested, including around 10 detained yesterday alone.

“When they threatened to handcuff me, it was pretty scary because under emergency law they can really do anything,” she said.

Continuing to raise her voice over the ongoing protests, Ms Fraser added: ‘What is happening to these people is absolutely appalling.

“There hasn’t been enough attention given to the suffering they are going through.

“The government is using tear gas against peaceful activists, it’s horrible.

“Social media has been powerful in helping to keep people here as safe as possible by showing more of what’s going on.”

Aberdeen-based Labor councilor Deena Tissera said she was working with MSP Foysol Choudhury and the Scottish Government to investigate with the Sri Lankan government to ensure Ms Fraser’s safety and that her human rights are protected.

“Kayleigh has received calls asking her to leave the country immediately as her life may be in danger,” Ms Tissera said.

“She is a social media activist who sheds light on the protests, state of emergency and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

“His British passport was forcibly seized by the Sri Lankan authorities for no reason.”

Mr Choudhury wrote to Sarah Hulton, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, on Thursday asking what steps had been taken to “recover his passport and ensure his safety in Sri Lanka until he returns to the UK”.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘Our staff are assisting a British woman in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan immigration authorities have been contacted for comment.

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