Viraj Mendis

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Viraj Mendis is a Sri Lankan national who claimed the right of sanctuary at the Church of the Ascension in Hulme, Manchester, England during the 1980s. He was an active supporter of the Tamils and the UK Revolutionary Communist Group and claimed danger of death if he was sent back to Sri Lanka. He arrived in the UK in October 1973 on a twelve-month student visa but overstayed his visa. Following a march to protest against his deportation on December 20, 1986 he ran into the church and claimed the right of sanctuary. He stayed in the church for the next two years with the help of the rector John Methuen. The church became the focus of the "Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign" against his deportation. On 18 January 1989 police raided the church and arrested Mendis, which led to a large demonstration and questions in the House of Commons.[1] He was later deported back to Sri Lanka and his fears did not materialize. Mendis claimed his case received so much publicity that the Sri Lankan government did not dare to harm him.[2] He later moved to Germany and became chair-person of the International Human Rights Association in Bremen and worked defending refugees facing deportation, and on Tamil liberation. [3][4][5] In 2010 he was still refused permission to return to Britain for the funeral service of John Methuen.


  1. ^ "Commons Debates - 18 January 1989". 
  2. ^ "BBC News - 14 September 2004". 
  3. ^ Jafferjee, Azra (2006-12-31). "Germany takes over EU, trouble for Lanka". Sri Lanka Sunday Times. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  4. ^ Dan Thompson (2010-08-02). "Viraj Mendis banned from funeral of priest who sheltered him". - Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  5. ^ "Old Hulme, Manchester - LifeStYLe". eXHulme. Retrieved 2010-08-08.