The fundamental rights case to secure the fundamental rights of arrested opposition politician, Azath Salley by Gowry Thavarasha, Attorney at Law bearing No. SC (FR) 164/2013, was listed for support today (09.05.2013) before a bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Mohan Pieris, de facto Chief Justice, Justice Sathya Hettige and Justice Eva Wanasundere.
The case, filed by the lawyer on behalf of the incarcerated Salley, cites N. K. Illangakoon, Inspector General of Police, Gamini Mathurata, Director, Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Sub-Inspector Lasantha Ratnayake, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Secretary, Ministry of Defence and Development and the Attorney General as Respondents.
The petition states that Salley has constantly been critical of certain Sinhalese extremist Sinhalese Buddhist groups (such as the Bodu Bala Sena – BBS) and personally provided information regarding those responsible for attacks on the Dambulla Mosque, Anuradhapura Mosque attacks and an imminent attack on the Kurunegala mosque to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The petition states that at all times, Salley had endeavoured to ensure that all disputes are settled peacefully.
In fact, the petition states that he was critical of those inciting racial and religious intolerance and disharmony. He was also critical of inaction on the part of the Government and law enforcement authorities.
The petition outlines the fact that Salley was outspoken but has never advocated violence or terrorism of any form. In fact, he was constantly advocating against terrorism, ethnic and religious sectarianism and authoritarianism.
In this context of Salley’s outspoken criticism of the BBS and Government inaction, a malicious series of anonymous internet postings and text (SMS) messages had been circulated, containing falsehoods targetting Salley.
Certain BBS members had publicly singled out Salley and made derogatory remarks against him. The Media Unit of the National Unity Alliance had also written to State and Private Media organisations condemning the defamatory publications made and political motivation behind the harassment being meted out to him.
Thereafter, Salley was questioned and thereafter arrested on 02.05.2013 at around 5:55am by hundreds of police and special task force officers who surrounded his house.
Salley, who is a diabetic, was thereafter denied medical attention and his condition was allowed to deteriorate. He was questioned with regard to an erroneous publication by an Indian based media organisation (“Junior Vikatan“), which he confirmed was inaccurate, and that he had sought a correction. However, he continued to be denied his basic rights and was finally admitted to Ward 55 of the National Hospital as his condition deteriorated further. No one was allowed to see him in hospital and he was taken back to the CID despite his worsening condition.
S. Wijesinghe, Senior State Counsel appearing for the State moved to have the case listed for support tomorrow (10.05.2013) along with a similar case. The court allowed this application and the case is now due to be taken up tomorrow morning at 10:00am.
J. C. Weliamuna with M. A. Sumanthiran, Hejaaz Hizbollah, Niran Anketell and Senura Abeywardena appeared for the Petitioner.
The Colombo Telegraph wishes to place before readers, the fact that the Secretary of Defence who is a Respondent in the case is the brother of President Rajapaksa and a close friend of the de facto Chief Justice who backed his controversial appointment. The Defence Secretary has been a strong supporter of the rightwing and increasingly violent Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Army), of whom Salley has been publicly critical.
Salley’s sudden arrest and detention which has been widely criticised and condemned locally and internationally, comes in the light of calls by many Muslim politicians, citizens groups etc. for Hate Crimes to be criminalised by passing a law. There has been increasing condemnation of Government inaction in the face of increasing occurances of physical and verbal hate attacks on Muslim and Christian persons, groups and places of worship.