20 August, 2019

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Civil Society Condemns Azath Salley Arrest And Detention Under PTA

“We also note the speed with which the Government and State actors acted on the arrest of Mr. Salley based on a misquoted interview. This is in a context of an increasing number of instances of hate speech and violence in Sri Lanka, with evidence publicly available identifying the perpetrators. Unfortunately, such incidents have not been independently investigated and perpetrators brought to account. Sadly, this incident is yet another reminder that the Government has resorted to strong-arm tactics to silence and harass critics, while turning a blind eye when actual incidents of violence occur. It is of serious concern as to the reasons for this unlawful arrest and the detention of Mr. Salley, and it sends a chilling reminder to all critics of the Government of reprisals.” issuing a statement say the members of Sri Lankan civil society.

“We the undersigned, vehemently condemn the arrest and detention of Former Deputy Mayor and General Secretary of the National Unity Alliance (NUA), Azath Salley, by a team of officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID), on Thursday, 2 May 2013 morning, and call for his immediate release in the absence of any demonstrable evidence.

We publish below the statement in full;

We the undersigned, vehemently condemn the arrest and detention of Former Deputy Mayor and General Secretary of the National Unity Alliance (NUA), Azath Salley, by a team of officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID), on Thursday, 2 May 2013 morning, and call for his immediate release in the absence of any demonstrable evidence.

Mr. Salley was arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and he has been placed under detention for further interrogation by the CID for 3 months under Section 2(1)(h) of the PTA. Section 2(1)(h) states that a person who has committed an offence under the PTA “….by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise causes or intends to cause commission of acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities or racial or religious groups…”

The unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Salley is in a context where there have been increasing attacks and threats against minorities, a growing spate of incidents of religious intolerance, and clamping down of critics of the Government and dissent on the whole. Mr. Salley has been a vocal critic of the extremist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the anti–Muslim activities of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), and has been actively involved in efforts to initiate legal action against both groups. He has also promoted minorities to unite against the racist rhetoric and actions of such groups. In addition, Mr. Salley has been publicly critical of the indirect support given to these elements by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

On 24 April 2013, in an interview to the Tamil Nadu bi-weekly magazine “Junior Vikatan”, Mr. Salley is alleged to have said that “the Muslims too should launch an armed struggle against the state in the same manner in which Tamils conducted a campaign earlier…(and) that such a struggle would commence once necessary arms are procured.” Mr. Salley has later written to the magazine stating that he was misquoted. The magazine published a correction on 4 May 2013.

Mr. Salley has been on a fast since his arrest on 2 May in protest against his unjust arrest, and demanding his release. Since his arrest, he has been moved from the 4th Floor of the CID to the National Hospital as he had collapsed due to lack of food, water and medication. There are concerns his condition can deteriorate if not urgently addressed, as he is a diabetic and in need of medication. He was initially refused visitors, including visits from his immediate family and lawyers, and was placed under heavy police guard. On 5 May, regardless of medical concerns, Mr. Salley had been moved back to the 4th Floor of the CID.

Mr. Salley’s had to be carried to the meeting room on the 4th Floor to meet with his lawyer yesterday (6). On seeing the deterioration in his condition, his lawyer had insisted that authorities re-hospitalize him immediately.

We may not agree with all of Mr. Salley’s political positions, however we are deeply concerned with the treatment meted towards him which seems to be a result of his position against hate propaganda and opposition to extremist groups. Whilst we recognize the responsibility of the State to investigate hate speech and other actions aimed at inciting communal disharmony, we wish to highlight the lack of fair and due process on the part of the State in the unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Salley. Given the context and the charges, it would seem that Mr. Salley’s charges are politically motivated.

We also note the speed with which the Government and State actors acted on the arrest of Mr. Salley based on a misquoted interview. This is in a context of an increasing number of instances of hate speech and violence in Sri Lanka, with evidence publicly available identifying the perpetrators. Unfortunately, such incidents have not been independently investigated and perpetrators brought to account. Sadly, this incident is yet another reminder that the Government has resorted to strong-arm tactics to silence and harass critics, while turning a blind eye when actual incidents of violence occur. It is of serious concern as to the reasons for this unlawful arrest and the detention of Mr. Salley, and it sends a chilling reminder to all critics of the Government of reprisals.

We, the undersigned call for his immediate release.

Signed by:

Clergy

1. Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe – Bishop Emeritus of Kurunagala, Anglican Church
2. Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris
3. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
4. Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando
5. Rev. Fr. Samuel J. Ponniah
6. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
7. Rev. Fr. Sherard Jayawardane
8. Rev. Fr. Terrence Fernando
9. Rev. Jason J. Selvaraja – Senior Pastor, Assembly of God – Chavakachcheri
10. Rev. Sr. Deepa Fernando

Organizations

11. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
12. Interfaith Cooperation Forum
13. Women’s Action Network

Individuals

14. A. Theva Rajan QSM – President, New Zealand Tamil Senior Citizens Association 15. Aaranya Rajasingam 16. Ahilan Kadirgamar 17. Aingkaran Kugathasan 18. Ainslie Joseph – Convenor, Christian Alliance for Social Action (CASA) 19. Amal de Chickera 20. Ameena Hussein 21. Ameer M Faaiz – Attorney-at-law 22. Anberiya Haniffa 23. Anushya Coomaraswamy 24. B. Gowthaman – Attorney-at-law 25. Balasingham Skanthakumar 26. Bhavani Fonseka 27. Bruce Van Voorhis 28. Chamindra Chathurinee 29. Chandra Jayaratne – Former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce 30. Chandraguptha Thenuwara – Artist 31. Deanne Uyangoda 32. Deshini Liyanaarachchi33. Dinidu de Alwis 34. Dilshy Banu 35. Dinesh D. Dodamgoda 36. Dr. Anita Nesiah 37. Dr. Lionel Bopage 38. Dr. P. Setunga 39. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu 40. Emil van der Poorten – Retiree & Community Activist 41. Faiz-ur Rahman 42. Farzana Haniffa 43. Farzath Faiz 44. Fawwazah Muhammad 45. Mohamed Raffai Mohamed Fouzi 46. Hans Billimoria 47. Hameed Abdul Karim 48. Imran Mohamed Ali 49. Infiyaz Mohamed Ali 50. Iromi Perera 51. Jayanthi Gunewardena 52. Jehan Perera 53. Jensila Majeed 54. Juwairiya Mohideen 55. K.J. Brito Fernando – President, Families of the Disappeared 56. K.S. Ratnavale 57. Kumaravadivel Guruparan 58. Kumari Kumaragamage 59. Kumi Samuel 60. Kusal Perera 61. Lal Wijenayake – Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) 62. Lasantha Rahunuge – Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association 63. Latheef Farook 64. Mahaluxumy Kurushanthan 65. Manjula Gajanayake 66. Marisa de Silva 67. Mano Ganesan – Leader, Democratic People’s Front (DPF) 68. Mathuri Thamilmaran 69. Megara Tegal 70. Melani Manel Perera – Journalist 71. Melisha Yapa 72. Mirak Raheem 73. Mohamed Hisham 74. Mohamed Shammas 75. Muhammad Nasir 76. Nazli Mohamed Ali 77. Nicola Perera 78. Nigel V. Nugawela 79. Nirmanusan Balasundaram – Independent Journalist/Human Rights Advocate 80. Nishan de Mel – Economist 81. Niyanthini Kadirgamar – Researcher 82. Nooranie Muthaliph 83. P.N. Singham 84. Paba Deshapriya 85. Prabu Deepan 86. Priya Thangarajah 87. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne – University of Kelaniya 88. Prof. Kumar David 89. R. Cheran 90. R.M.B. Senanayake 91. Rajani Chandra 92. Rohan Salgadoe 93. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera 94. Ruki Fernando – Human Rights Activist 95. Sabra Zahid 96. Sampath Samarakoon 97. Sanjaya Senanayake 98. Sanoon Mohideen 99. Sarala Emmanuel 100. Selvi Sachithanandam – Chairperson, Poornam Foundation 101. Selvy Thiruchandran 102. Shamala Kumar – University of Peradeniya 103. Shanthi Sachithanandam 104. Shehan de Alwis 105. Shehan Shakoor 106. Shreen Saroor 107. Siritunga Jayasuriya – United Socialist Party 108. Srinath Perera – Attorney-at-law 109. Sumathy Sivamohan 110. Sunanda Deshapriya 111. Sunil Jayasekera – Free Media Movement 112. Sunil Wijesiriwardena 113. Suren D. Perera – Activist & Attorney-at-law 114. Thiruni Kelegama 115. Udaya Kalupathirana – INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre 116. Uvais Mohamed Ali 117. Visaka Dharmadasa.118.DBS Jeyaraj-Journalist

Read the full statement here

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Latest comments

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    Society is aghast at the unjust arrest of Azad Sally under PTA. Yet the regime labours over a decision to release him. As usual the pig headed stupidity of MR and the impunity of GR are unable to admit their faults and mistakes. Instead they persist with their unjust and criminal persecution of political leader and personality of the Muslim community.

    This is an affront and an insult to the entire muslim community given the recent slander and attacks by ethno religous facist groups like BBS. The media spokesman Hullugalla tries to butter the community by saying he has insulted the community but he should realise that we have a strong sense of justice and this type of discriminatory actions against anyone will not be accepted.

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      @safa

      “This is an affront and an insult to the entire muslim community given the recent slander and attacks by ethno religous facist groups like BBS.”

      Please understand that nobody gave you the right to speak on behalf of the entire muslim community as much as nobody gave Salley the right to create tension and disrupt the long-standing peace the muslims had nurtured with the sinhala majority for so long. Our community doesnt need self-appointed leaders. It needs genuine stalwarts of the calibre of Razik Fareed, TB Jayah, and Siddi Lebbe who genuinely feel for society in general and in the process also help uplift their own community by helping better integration and co-existence. The present day muslim “leaders” are only interested in lining their own pockets at the expense of the community and play dirty, divisive politics for their own survival.Azaths Sallys recent dilly-dallying with the Tamil parties in Madras is highly inflammatory and needs to be condemned for all the dangers it posed to the muslims in the country especially after a 30 year terrorist war. This is not the time for fanning communal emotions. Ask yourself why the list of signatures above is lacking those of Hakim, Bathiudeen, Fowzy, Hisbullah, Dirty Azwer, Cader, MH Mohammed, Muzammil, Paisal Muthappa et al. Why do they not speak up for the “injustice” done to Azath Salley if they honestly have a conscience? The answer is blowing in the wind. They are as deceiptful and manipulative as Azath Sally himself in gaining political mileage for their own survival at the expense of the community they pretend to represent. Most muslims are aware of this and know that Azath Sally played with fire and deserves the punishment meted out to him. Every community has radical extremists. The sinhalese has the BBS and the muslims have the Taliban. But lets not blame the community in general for these quirks.As responsible citizens of a multicultural society it is up to us to genuinely work together and evolve practical and workable solutions instead of simply adding our names to a meaningless list of signatories which will eventually have very little effect in the light of the prevailing laws of the land other than to boost the signators personal ego of seeing his name on the list of “also signed” .

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    Seeking justice in SL is like looking for a needle in a stack of hay.. Its about time Human rights organizations force the ruling elite to come within the perimeters or get UN sanctions on the rulers. Slap a travel ban and freeze their assets and NOT put sanction on the citizenry, who have a hard time already with the high cost of living.. It’s actually well past time that the UN act, for if they let the situation spiral, we may have another Syria in the making…

    Act before its too late and lives are lost…is what the UN need to understand and the need of the hour in SL.

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    Most of the signatories(organizations) are foreign funded NGOs. Though they claim that they are “Civil Society” they don’t have people base.Mara knows this so he doesn’t care this voice.Some of the signatories such as Jehan Perera are always hide behind others to save their faces. Some of the well doing NGOs such as Sarvoday,Dr.Ariyaratna,,Seva Lanka,Harshakularatna,and Consortium for Humanitarian agencies,Jeevan Thyagaraja have not signed this petition.

    Any way it is good at least some of the individuals(Not civil Society)have signed this petition but can they have any action following this since some of the NGOs have big money with them.One important question remains why these signatories failed to demand for the total repeal of PTA and the immediate release of Mr.Sally in the petition because this was unlawful.

    We as HR defenders condemn this action by MARA regime.

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    Why these signatories failed to demand for the repeal of PTA and the release of Sally unconditionally as this was unlawful.Will these people go for any action other than restricting their presence to statements?I am not sure because most of the organizations are NGOs without people base . It is wrong to say that these are “Civil Societies” MARA also knows this so he doesn’t give much attention to this cry.There are some signatories,who always try to hide behind others like Jehan Perera in order to show good face to “all”

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    Hi, sonlight or moonlight. Let it be any one – human or NGO -, big money or small. When some thing is wrong, it’s always wrong. Simply for the sake they have power that doesn’t mean they have all the right to haul any one into custody on trumped up charges. This is not law and order, it’s jungle law, guess that too might be better than what we have in this good for nothing country of good for nothing leaders. People are getting fed up with this good for nothing leaders, instead of governing the country in the decent way to make the people’s lives better, they are trying to score points. This shows how small and narrow is their mind. My friends this wouldn’t last long, mind you how things going to work out for them. They are going to get their own medicine and they going to fall into their own pit in the near future because they believe in Karuma. This Karuma would hound them soon, it’s their belief, so it should work for them for all these sins of theirs.

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    CPA, Centre for Paid Alternative and all the siblings from Portuguese and Dutch are the signature party..

    These called civil society ? I could not stop laughing and what kind of a joke is this?

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    My worry is that though these NGO’s get huge sums of money from western donors to strengthen the people for defend themselves from bad rulers but they never take meaningful action to do so ,instead they build up themselves financially and create an image that they are people concerned.Do you know how much allowance some of these NGO papas get from their NGOs.Its ranged from 150,000 to 250,000 per month in addition to all other perks such as phone bills,transport,bonus,insurance,entertainment costs,EPF,ETF,gratuity payments,Foreign trips,resource persons payments from other NGOs ranging from 10,000 to 25,000 per sitting,per diam for foreign trips from the NGO and from the invitees, regular cock tail parties with foreign diplomats etc. They make big money but is this to serve the innocent and oppressed sections of the people of this country? Is this only to write articles or issue statements without any action ?I agree that there are few NGOs realty trying to do some thing,such as filing cases etc.But most of them are run for the benefit of the so called NGO ‘Civil Society leaders” and for their own family survivals.They always judge the good and bad without strongly stand for the truth and justice.

    My strong believe is that there won’t be any changes in the present context unless people have a true leadership and people actions .I don’t see much difference between the Govt, organizations and the NGOs in terms of good governance,accountability and transparency etc.There is no proper audit system prevails to check the work and their affects and results of these NGO owners.

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    Where is Uncle Fowzies signature?

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    Wow! what an illustrious list of names. Some are well-known, others not so well-known and still others struggling to be noticed on lankan societys growing kaleidescope of intellectual moralists.See how they seize every opportunity to even flaunt their joined-at-the hip titles to boost their personal egos. Did any of these consciencious signators have a modicum of sympathy for the innocent lankan housemaid who was beheaded in Saudi Arabia recently? Where were they at the time of need. Hiding in the woodwork of religious rot and moral decay? Now, they slide out like worms to defend a partisan politician who has flouted the laws of the land with a personal agenda of his own. Was their conscience so dead that they were even deaf to Rizanas cries for mercy and help? And see the number of muslims on the list. Amazes me as to how hardened their hearts had been to even voice their opinion against the brutality of the Sharia laws which so injudiciously lead to this poor womans decapitation and burial in the alien sands of her aggressors. Malinda S. was the only genuine writer who I remember nearly 3 years ago wrote a heart-wrenching article in the Daily News pleading with the powers that be do do something before it was too late. His was a genuine cry for help on behalf of a hapless victim of circumstance and that article left a lasting impression on my own mind of this writers genuine humanity and moral conscience despite belonging to a different religion. Mercy had no place in their vocabularly then but today, see how they fight with themselves to be first on the list of signators. T’is indeed a funny world we live in today.

  • 0
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    Chinese people will eat anything.

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