The complaint lodged with the mobile office of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) in Mannar by the family of the poet Mannaramudhu Ahnaf Jazeem, 25, who is presently detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) over allegedly promoting Islamist extremism and terrorism, has been transferred for inquiries to the HRCSL head office in Colombo.
Ahnaf’s family previously informed that they will be filing a fundamental rights (FR) petition before the Supreme Court in this regard, and at present, the petition is being drafted.
According to print and web media reports, Ahnaf had been arrested on 16 May 2020 while a detention order valid for three months had been issued under the hand of the President, followed by a second detention order issued, and the same being extended subsequently.
Speaking to the writer, Afham R.M. Razmin, Ahnaf’s elder sibling, speaking also on behalf of his parents who are involved in farming and agriculture, and are based in Pandaraweli, Silawathura, Mannar, explained that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had initially taken him to Vavuniya for questioning and subsequently brought him back home, asked him to gather some clothes and collected all his books, and then taken him away. He is presently in the custody of the Terrorism Investigation Division.
According to Razmin, the reason for Ahnaf’s arrest is that copies of a poetry collection titled ‘Navarasam’ authored and published in Tamil by Ahnaf in July 2017, which the investigating law enforcement authorities allege promotes Islamist extremism and terrorism, had been found on the premises of a school (named School of Excellence) building in Madurankuliya, Puttalam, belonging to the Save the Pearl organization, the latter which is linked to Attorney-at-Law (AAL) Hejaaz Hizbullah who is also detained at present in connection with the investigations into the Easter Sunday bombings on 21 April 2019. Ahnaf along with other teachers had been conducting after school tuition classes for village children at the said building situated in the property owned by Save the Pearl. The school in question is being investigated by the CID for allegedly promoting Islamist extremism and alleged links to the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
The first mention of Ahnaf’s Navarasam came up when the case connected to Hizbullah was taken up in September 2020. Ahnaf’s case is being heard at the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. Following a Court order, a particular literal, word-for-word sworn translation of the book had been evaluated by child psychiatrists at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children on the basis that it had been circulated among minors, and a print media news report quoted the said report by the child psychiatrists as declaring that some of the poems in the book “incites violence, arouses sexual feelings, promotes suicide, glorifies death, talks of perceived injustice against Muslims across the world, and incites hatred against the perpetrators of violence” and therefore deemed harmful to children.
A Court hearing scheduled for 8 December was postponed to March 2021 over COVID-19 related concerns.
Razmin added that they will be filing a FR petition in this regard. Article 14(1)(a) of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression including publication.
The family has retained the services of AAL Sanjaya Wilson Jayasekera, who is also the President of the Action Committee for the Defence of the Freedom of Art and Expression, who added that, in addition, they will also be seeking bail for Ahnaf.
Jayasekera, speaking to the writer, claimed: “This is completely anti-democratic and is a death-blow to the freedom of expression and art. This is a continuation of attacks on artists and writers who are critical of the society and the political system. Ahnaf is the latest victim in a series of such arbitrary arrests and prosecutions involving a short story writer, a film director, a commentator and social media activist, a lawyer and journalists under this Government. The Police or the prosecutors cannot understand literature and arbitrarily arrest writers to impose fear and to subjugate critical thinking. These arrests and the whole campaign is directed at entrenching anti-Muslim racism to divide the working people and masses along racial lines. All those who value democratic rights and the freedom of art should protest against this arrest and detention and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ahnaf”.
Meanwhile, in opposition to the arbitrary arrest and detention of Ahnaf, the Sri Lanka Young Journalists Association has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission seeking the latter’s intervention. (By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody)
sitrep24 / December 31, 2020
Lol this guy was writing anti isis poetry and he was arrested. This should prove beyond any doubt that the only type of Islam that extremist sinhala buddhist like is the extremists. Pieces of the puzzle are all now falling into place; we can now see who was zahrans boss. I’m sure the many extremist buddhists who frequently comment on these posts will have something insecure and colourful to say regarding this innocent child.
May the Lord of Jesus Christ Grant this innocent human being Justice and return him to the safety of his family.
Stanley / December 31, 2020
‘The Lord of Jesus Christ Grant’ is not available at this moment. Please leave a message. Born a circumcised Oriental Jew, he convinced himself that he was the ‘son of God’. (Others have convinced themselves that they were the prophet, representative or God himself). Anyway, the hypocrite whipped money lenders while telling his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’. May The Lord of Jesus Christ Grant come to his senses.
SJ / January 1, 2021
Claims to connections with God or any other supreme being have been made by various sages in theistic faiths.
What difference does it make if one calls himself a blood relation or favourite pupil or messenger?
What matters is what one had to offer to humanity.
JC made a huge impact, which may have been just as big even if he made a lesser claim. His message clicked at the right time.
It is unfair to call him a hypocrite with no basis to argue that he did not mean what he said.
hanchopancha / December 31, 2020
UNHRC or the entire UN for that matter is a white elephant. The money it spends only go into the wallets of the corrupt individuals..Any one who thinks that his or her Human Rights are secured by the UN is a fool. If there ever was at UN anyone who resolutely dedicated himself with total commitment; only name I can think of is HE Prince Seid besides Dr. Daag Hammershold.
Ajith / December 31, 2020
It is used by Powerful states, Powerful politicians, Powerful groups.
In Sri Lanka Terrorism was there for many more years. 1958 massacre of Tamils was a Terrorism. 1983 Massacre of Tamils was a Terrorism. Massacre of Sinhalese youth in 1970 is a Terrorism. Massacre of Sinhalese in 1989/90 was a Terrorism. 2009 Massacre of Tamils was a Terrorism. Easter Bombing was a Terrorism. The fact is the state Terrorism is a permanent feature of this country while other Terrorisms a temporary.
The State always claim that they have eradicated other terrorisms but they always create terrorism or encourage terrorism. For example the issue of Corona dead bodies of Muslims is a tactic to create Muslim Terrorism by the state as claimed by one and only Muslim Minister Al Sabri (Minister of Justice) who brought Gota to power.
nk / December 31, 2020
Massacres carried out against Tamils periodically that culminated in 2009 constitute genocide. Terrorism is not the apt word.
Ashan / December 31, 2020
Israel calls the Palestinians “terrorists” to justify the occupation, land theft, and killing of unarmed civilians, the US called it going after “terrorists” when they waged endless wars in the ME resulting in millions massacred, injured, and refugees, the military in Myanmar blamed a rag tag bunch of militants to justify the massacre of thousands of Rohingya people, who were lined up and killed, women raped, and villages burnt, and China says they are “training” Uighurs, as they demolish mosques, bulldoze burial grounds, and try to erase their religion from their brains, even force feeding them to eat pork.
So yes, terrorism has been the excuse for decades to massacre minorities, for stealing lands, occupying, selling weapons, or discrimination of minority.
Ashan / December 31, 2020
Again, Rajapaksa Racism at work. The world is watching, and we are on the way to pariah status. Gota is making the Muslims the scapegoats for his failed policies, and the his inefficiency when it comes to controlling the number of COVID cases.
Sri Lanka is on it’s way to ethnic strife, and maybe bloodbaths. If the Rajapaksa’s are yearning for more bloodshed and violence, they are right now laying the groundwork for it, with their racist policies, political arrests, and refusal to cooperate with the minority, who want to bury their dead, within the guidelines of the WHO and other experts. Where there is discrimination, targeted arrests, and unchecked mobs attacking a helpless minority, their homes, and their businesses, it is only human to want to resist, push back, and anger. This young man was writing poetry, and democracies allow freedom of speech and expression. WHILE WAR CRIMINALS AND MURDERERS ARE PARDONED, AND NOW PART OF THE RAJAPAKSA GOVERNMENT, THIS YOUNG MAN IS ARRESTED FOR WRITING POETRY. If there are serious crimes committed by this man IT SHOULD BE MADE PUBLIC. We are still waiting to know exactly what crimes Hejaaaz Hizbullah is accused of as he languishes in jail.
If the Rajapaksa’s want the international community to help our economy, apart from China, these racist arrests and policies will be one reason, they will not want to help.
Thiagarajah Venugopal / December 31, 2020
I know of certain Tamil Poet stood in FP/TULF (looters gatherings) and want the death of their opponents for the their personal liberations in 1970’s in Jaffna.
Then we as a Nation and the Toilet washers around the world have sacrificed our life for the past 50 years with no human rights.
I suggest if such great poets exists then we send them to those respective countries to live and write their poetries as we have a more urgent task that is to Nation Build so the next generation can feed themselves first and lead a dignified life.
Once we are in a comfort zone we can enjoy all kind off rights including ones personal wish list please.
Fo9r the time being leave the matter to the authorities to deal with etc.
SJ / January 1, 2021
Here is a case of serious injustice and you seem to be doing everything possible to trivialize it.
Which person in authority can anybody trust in this country to deliver justice?
It is about time that you took off your anti-FP/TULF blinkers and took a look at what is going on around you.
Tamil from the north / January 2, 2021
Thiagarajah Venugopal, what the heck are you blabbering about? Did you take your medication for your illness?
Ajay / January 1, 2021
“report by the child psychiatrists as declaring that some of the poems in the book incites violence, arouses sexual feelings, promotes suicide, glorifies death, talks of perceived injustice against Muslims across the world, and incites hatred against the perpetrators of violence” and therefore deemed harmful to children.”
I can totally relate to this. When I was growing up I too was traumatized by the poetry I was taught in elementary school. As children we were taught that we were the result of sex between a lion and a human. We were also taught that a mystic from faraway India decided to overlook his own huge country and visit our distant tiny island called Lanka three times and climb a very high remote mountain infested with leopards and poisonous snakes and plant his supersized footprint on a granite rock for posterity. At that tender age I had no concept of poetry and believed all these things to be literally true. As a consequence my budding interest in science and biology was totally destroyed and I became vulnerable to primitive beliefs and tribal myths. I also became sexually attracted to animals. Even today I’m still struggling to overcome this childhood trauma and lead a normal life. I’m all for imprisoning poets.
old codger / January 1, 2021
Be fair. The mystic didn’t have to climb the mountain. He could fly!
soma / January 2, 2021
He didn’t fly either. He didn’t have to.
Angel Gabriel came over from Paradise and Hanuma jumped across the Palk Straight to carry him to the top while a special representative from God held an umbrella above his head. There was a group beautiful angles with flowers from heaven to welcome him at the top. God Saman had prepared a chair made of gems to sit and deliver the sermon.
Sound of Sadu, Sadu reverberated across all seven heavens.
SJ / January 2, 2021
You are confusing historians and religious leaders with poets.
I wonder if your sexual attractions are a blessing to the human female (or male if you are a female).
soma / January 2, 2021
So finally you found your refuge in Colombo Telegraph?
Like most of your category.
Tamil from the north / January 2, 2021
Soma’palan’, you are here too. What are you complaining about Ajay for, when you yourself is quite active here. Idiot get a life, loser.
soma / January 2, 2021
Tamil from Canadian north
Why didn’t you swallow the Cyanide pill your Thalaivar gave you?
You betrayed him, didn’t you?
Tamil from the north / January 3, 2021
Som’pala modaya’ not all Tamils are LTTE supporters. Ok, so what are your heroes the scum among the Sinhalese by the name Rajapaksas, doing with LTTE mass murderers Karuna Amman, Pilayan, KP Pathmanathan, Daya Master…….etc. Lets see whether your pea sized brain could process this question and conjure up a valid answer. You are so stupid, I do not think you will provide a decent answer. Don’t come back and tell me that they apologized for killing and maiming 1000s of soldiers and civilians.
srikrish / January 2, 2021
I thought you were one of the sensible commentators.
As a non- believer myself, your comment has disappointed me.
There is something called freedom of expression.
We may not agree with what he says, but we shall defend his right to express himself freely and within legal limits.
chandra s / January 2, 2021
srikrish: I don’t think you understand irony. Please, re-read Ajay’s comment, paying special attention to his/her idea about “imprisoning poets”.
Ajay / January 3, 2021
Usually it is your opponent who understands your irony better – as proved in this case by Soma going ballistic.
srikrish / January 4, 2021
was it satire or sarcastic,? it is definitely not irony
Ajay / January 4, 2021
You’re absolutely right, it was sarcasm. And sarcasm is not something unknown to be treated as a type of irony – namely verbal irony.