Scots documenting protests in Sri Lanka have their passports seized by the authorities

Kayleigh Fraser has had her passport seized by immigration authorities in Sri Lanka (Kayleigh Fraser/PA)

Kayleigh Fraser has had her passport seized by immigration authorities in Sri Lanka (Kayleigh Fraser/PA)

A Scottish woman living in Sri Lanka, who has campaigned for activists protesting the country’s economic crisis, has had her passport seized by the authorities.

Kayleigh Fraser, from St Andrews, said six immigration officers showed up at her door on Tuesday claiming she had breached her visa conditions.

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

Fraser said she was then told to wait seven days for “an investigation” to be carried out before she could retrieve the documentation.

Fraser has regularly posted photos and reported on the ongoing unrest in Sri Lanka on social media sites while in the country (Kayleigh Fraser PA handout)

Fraser has regularly posted photos and reported on the ongoing unrest in Sri Lanka on social media sites while in the country (Kayleigh Fraser PA handout)

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 because authorities were investigating her.

The British national has been vocal on social media about ongoing protests in Colombo, which since Ranil Wickremesinghe took charge on July 21 have been dealt with “intimidation, surveillance and arbitrary arrests of protesters, civil society activists, lawyers and journalists,” according to Human Rights Watch .

Fraser told the PA news agency about her confrontation with immigration officials: “They talked me into the street and were outside my house for about 40 minutes, but they couldn’t even tell me what I had done wrong.

“They kept saying I had breached the terms of my visa, but they didn’t even know what visa I had until they finally got hold of my passport.

“I didn’t feel safe.”

Fraser videotaped her interaction with the officers after she claimed two of them tried to barge into her home to get her passport.

She can be heard telling them that she feels she is being harassed for drawing attention to the ongoing problems facing the Sri Lankan public, such as inflation and fuel shortages.

Since posting the video on her social media pages, Fraser said activist lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku, general secretary of the Vinivida Foundation, has been in touch with her to help her cause.

She said the couple will meet officials at the country’s Immigration and Emigration Department on Monday to hopefully collect her passport.

Fraser first traveled to Sri Lanka in 2019. She spent time during the coronavirus 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 reportedly said was “in the interest of public security”.

A state of emergency allows troops to arrest and detain suspects, and the president can make regulations that override existing laws to deal with any unrest.

Fraser said in the past two weeks she believes between 40 and 50 people have been arrested, and about 10 were taken into custody yesterday alone.

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

Continuing to make his voice heard about the ongoing protests, Fraser added: “What is happening to these people is absolutely appalling.

“There hasn’t been enough attention to the suffering they go through.

“The government uses tear gas on peaceful activists, it’s terrible.

“Social media has been powerful in keeping people here as safe as they can be by showing more of what’s going on.”

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

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

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

“Her British passport has been seized by Sri Lankan authorities for no reason.”

Mr Choudhury wrote to Sarah Hulton, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka on Thursday to ask what steps had been taken to “retrieve her passport and ensure her safety in Sri Lanka until she returns to the UK”.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our staff are assisting a British woman in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lankan immigration authorities have been contacted for comment.

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