14 June, 2024

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Tamils Detained For Commemorating War Dead: 9 Held Under Abusive PTA

Sri Lankan authorities have detained nine ethnic Tamils under the country’s abusive counterterrorism law for commemorating those who died in the 1983-2009 civil war, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Sri Lankan government has repeatedly assured international allies, trading partners, and the United Nations that it would replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which has long been used to arbitrarily detain and torture minority community members and civil society activists. The government should immediately release all those arbitrarily detained under the PTA and place a moratorium on its use until it can be repealed.

“The Sri Lankan authorities’ use of a counterterrorism law against Tamils commemorating those who died in the civil war is cruelly abusive and further marginalizes a community that already faces persistent government discrimination,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “President Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks of ‘reconciliation,’ but his government’s actions only serve to deepen ethnic divisions.”

The authorities arrested those newly detained under the PTA between November 25 and 27 in Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, and confiscated decorations and loudspeakers from a commemoration vigil. Since the civil war between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009 with the separatist armed group’s complete defeat, successive administrations have prevented Tamils from publicly memorializing the war dead.

On December 2, police in Mullaitivu district, in the Northern Province, reportedly shut down an event at a Hindu temple to commemorate the Sri Lankan army’s 1984 massacre of Tamil villagers in Othiyamalai. Preventing ethnic and religious minorities from conducting ceremonies to commemorate the dead violates the rights to freedom of religion, belief, expression, and association, Human Rights Watch said.

Soon after taking office in July 2022, President Wickremesinghe ended a short-lived moratorium on the use of the PTA. A previous administration, in which Wickremesinghe was prime minister, had pledged in 2017 to repeal the law when it rejoined a European Union trading program called the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). The GSP+ grants tariff-free access for Sri Lankan exports conditioned on compliance with international human rights conventions. Sri Lankan authorities have repeatedly renewed the pledge but never carried it out.

Many of Sri Lanka’s international partners, including the United StatesEuropean Union, and United Kingdom, as well as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticized the recent PTA detentions.

The administration has also used the PTA to restrict criticism of government management of the economy and other policies. In August 2022, three student activists were detained under the law for protesting the government’s handling of the economic crisis. Other activists say that they fear being arrested under the PTA for speaking out and that the government is constraining civil society organizations’ access to funding, particularly donations from abroad, under the guise of “countering terrorist financing.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is providing Sri Lanka with a US$3 billion loan, reported in September that civil society’s “oversight and monitoring” of government actions is “restricted … by broad application of counter-terrorism rules.”

In a November report on Sri Lanka’s compliance with its human rights obligations under the GSP+ trading arrangement, the EU found that “the treatment of minorities remains a concern in particular as efforts towards reconciliation are slow, and the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) continues to be applied including after the protest movements in 2022, causing fear among the population and suffocating dissent. Substantial reform or repeal of the PTA in line with human rights standards remains a priority, just as Sri Lanka’s need to re-commit to reconciliation and accountability.” Despite Sri Lanka’s failure to comply with its six-year-old pledge to reform the PTA, the EU continues to extend GSP+ benefits to the country.

On September 15, the government published the latest version of its proposed replacement counterterrorism legislation. It then withdrew the bill for further revisions after widespread domestic and international criticism that it reproduced many of the abusive provisions of the current law while creating new speech-related offenses that could be used to suppress dissent.

The government recently proposed another law, the Online Safety Bill, that could also be used to restrict freedom of expression by creating a commission, appointed by the president, which would decide whether online statements are false or prohibited. The commission could order the removal of online statements and participate in police investigations and prosecutions of those accused of posting them.

“The Sri Lankan government’s latest misuse of the PTA should be a strong reminder to the EU that its GSP+ requirements are being ignored,” Ganguly said. “The European Union and EU governments need to make their displeasure with this turn of events known.” (By HRW)

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Latest comments

  • 29
    0

    An unelected, wholly unethical and opportunistic set of parasitic political vermin are deciding the destiny of Sri Lanka when educated, committed, genuinely concerned youth are languishing on the streets or have flown overseas for work. These criminals will bring all sorts of laws to control public dissent and will not stop at anything to hold on to power. The people must collectively rise against these scumbags and dismantle this destructive system before it is too late.

  • 22
    1

    Yeah! Repeal the PTA …….. unless it’s used to imprison, without trial, Ranil/Rajapakse band of terrorists. ………. Those are the only terrorists still left in the country.


    The great true patriot Gunduvindu carrying out his patriotic duty when all the fake-patriots/traitors have run for cover letting down the suffering/starving people …….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwknSQPSq_M

    The day is not too far, when he will be fighting Ranil, to get the long imprisoned Tamils with false accusations, released …….. then just watch how the closet Ranill supporters come out of the woodwork to berate brave Gundu. :))

    No good deed ever goes unpunished.

    • 9
      0

      nimal fernando

      Thanks for the link, I watched the first 5 minutes of his lamentation.

      Did he mention about the first and second sugar scam in which the coffer lost more than Rs 16 billion prior to April 2022?

    • 5
      0

      “The government should immediately release all those arbitrarily detained under the PTA and place a moratorium on its use until it can be repealed.”
      But then, it could use the ICCPR, the Vagrancy Act, it could check the licences of accompanying bicycles……….
      It would be easier to repeal the entire Constitution.

  • 20
    0

    More than anyone else, it is the government that is continuing to keep Prabakaran and the LTTE alive today. Why is the government so scared of a dead person and a defunct organization? This is a clear case of institutional paranoia!
    Furthermore, the government should realize that within the next ten years or so the Sinhalese people will also begin commemorating the deaths of their “War Heroes!” When that day comes will they say, “We the majority community will commemorate the deaths of Sinhala War Heroes and war victims but we will not allow the Tamils to commemorate the deaths of their freedom fighters and war victims?”
    The reason that the majority community has not started memorializing dead persons yet is that due to some curious quirk of fate, all war criminals have long lifespans! Take the case of Henry Kissinger who was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in many countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cambodia. He lived long enough to celebrate his 100th Birthday!

    • 15
      0

      Captain Morgan

      “Why is the government so scared of a dead person and a defunct organization? “

      The state has no reason to be fearful of VP, LTTE, or resurrected VP’s daughter. It is all about how to increase defence budget, keep the number of Ranaviruses at the same level if not more, siphoned off by sheer stealing, kickbacks, commissions, ….. pooh-poohing to IMF conditionality, … make every b***s carrier happy, …….

      • 8
        0

        Native,
        Ranil is very good at giving with his right hand while letting Ampitiye Sumane do his thing.
        Now he has the perfect tool in Deshabandu Tennakoon, who recently did the round of all the racist monks in the country. RW can turn his blind eye to commemorations while Deshabandu uses water cannons.
        Those who keep insisting that there is no racial discrimination in Sri Lanka, please take note.

        • 7
          0

          OC / Native, don’t you’ll think regardless of bankruptcy, SB Lanka is getting back to where it started ??? which truly makes us ” a country like no other” . In anticipation of elections , the language of our inmates too are changing. More of intimidation, threats, racist remarks, ……

          • 7
            0

            How do people expect inmates to continue their politicking ??? It’s them who desperately need ……… VP, tigers, Ampitiya, Jerome, Archaeology dept, Ganasara, diaspora, PTA, Muslim extremist ( though, demand is less, you never know when things / preference may change), commissions……….. Sampath needs Chanakyan, Sabry needs diaspora, SW needs LTTE, Wimal needs USA, Goman needs India, WR needs MS . . . . . . . . .

            • 7
              0

              Chiv,
              “Sampath needs Chanakyan, Sabry needs diaspora, SW needs LTTE, Wimal needs USA, Goman needs India, WR needs MS . . . . . . . . .”
              And RW needs all of them.

  • 12
    1

    Ranil showing his true colours – although many Sri Lankans knew already. Maybe he is taking lessons from the Myanmar Junta? Myanmar is also a Theraveda Buddhist country, which also has a history of British colonialism. You can find an interesting Case Study here – https://rpl.hds.harvard.edu/religion-context/case-studies/violence-peace/conflict-myanmar
    Best Regards

    • 10
      1

      Just for SJ – The main supporters of the Myanmar Junta are Russia and China. Maybe they are using their undoubted experience to direct Ranil’s draconian actions?

      Best Regards

      • 4
        9

        Is Indian attitude any different from that of China?

        • 7
          1

          Bluffing and then there is sheepish bluffing.

          ‘Is Indian attitude any different from that of China?”
          You wrote this because something in you something convulsing to honor PM Modi with China’s Ram, Ma vo?
          Come on, pay attentions to what you write instead of buffing with full blow to win the talks in your style.

          • 2
            6

            Read the news, and try to understand it if you can.
            Otherwise get someone who can understand it to read it and explain it to you.

      • 3
        9

        LS
        Are you seriously worried that that RW has switched loyalties? Breathe a sigh of relief, there is none such.
        The US, EU and India thought that they could catch China out on the IMF bailout process.
        For a while, it did look as if China will end up as the villain who wrecked the IMF deal. (There was plenty to that effect on these pages.)
        *
        As for draconian actions, why are the US and India, still the best friends of the RW government, doing nothing?
        They did nothing in the past (except exert pressure on MR to put him ‘on track’ and no more no less). I can assure that they will do nothing now.
        *
        China? It was never its business anywhere.
        Happy?

        • 7
          1

          “The US, EU and India thought that they could catch China out on the IMF bailout process.”

          Did anyone in this forum have back channels to US, EU’ India and China?
          Perhaps some people are able to read what US, EU and India are thinking.
          Maybe he is suffering from paranoia.

          The issues are very simple, only those who are wake and alert would know what is happening in the world.

        • 4
          1

          Hello SJ
          Malle pol – I never asked if he had switched loyalties. We had a visit in our village from a delegation of JVP politicians and supporters. You must have tarred them all with your brush. Every question that I asked was answered in the same way. Evade the question or answer with a question of no relevance to the original question. When I asked about their Manifesto they were completely confused. Their answer was “put us in power and we will fix all the problems”. Of course when I asked how they would do that, there was no clear answer from any of them.
          India with its Hindutwa program is as draconian as many dictatorships. The US doesn’t particularly care, they have more to worry about than Sri Lanka. They are taking draconian measures against their own populace that voice support for the Palestinians.
          As for China (I note that you don’t answer any of the questions I raised about the Myanmar/China relationship) do you really think that China has no influence on the Sri Lankan Government? And by the way they tend to ignore the International Rules of Law – ask the Phillipines Coast Guard
          Best Regards

      • 5
        8

        For LankaScot

        The US, UK, Europe, the Anglo-Saxon world, the white world, they are always right, no question. They have also daubed white paint on the whipped Japs, the submissive Aussie whites [to an extent], Kiwis [to an extent], Arab sheiks who are fearful they will be overthrown by their own populations.

        Now they are busy murdering Palestinian men, women and children.

        There are financial benefits when you jump over their hurdles and join them. Citizenship, the dole, etc. Nevertheless, your brown skin will be spat on, you will be called names, you must stay away from certain areas unless you want to be murdered. Anyway you will sing Jayawewa!

        Brain transplant needed.

        • 4
          8

          With time your skin will turn white. Rub whitening cream for faster turnover.

        • 6
          1

          Hello Sonali,
          I live in Sri Lanka, my wife is Sri Lankan. There are many in the UK that are in dire financial straits. I live in a small village in Central Province and I see the poverty first hand. For many years I tried to explain to my wife that the Rajapaksas were robbing the country blind whilst trying to blame every other ethnic group for Sri Lankas troubles. Now there is not a single person that I have spoken to here that has any respect for the 225 politicians (that includes Ranil Rajapaksa) that have caused the bankruptcy of the country.
          I traveled throughout the UK teaching the Judiciary, Court personnel and many other UK Government departments. I have never seen any areas where brown people are likely to be murdered, nor I have I seen any brown people spat on.
          Best Regards

          • 3
            1

            Hello LankaScot.
            You couldn’t have been as you say, “travelling throughout the UK, teaching the Judiciary, Court personnel and many other UK Government departments”, and not heard about “paki bashing” (any Asian actually) or the murdered young black student Stephen Lawrence.
            Stephen was waiting for a bus with a friend when he was attacked, stabbed repeatedly, and left to die on the pavement.
            It took 18 years of campaigning by Stephen’s family and supporters before two suspects were convicted of his murder in 2012. They will soon be eligible for parole. Three suspects were never brought to justice.
            Teachers must keep themselves informed.

            • 3
              0

              You might have been in Uswetakeiyawa, on the west coast.

              • 3
                1

                Hello Sonali and Sj.
                Try to remember that it is Israelis that are murdering the Palestinians – the same country that helped the Rajapaksas murder the Tamil civilians in 2009. The Chinese supplied the planes and the Pakistanis helped to fly them. The Israelis are using the same tactics – herding the Palestinians into so called safe zones and the bombing them. It is called Genocide.
                The racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and the refusal by Police to properly investigate led, in 1998, to the Macpherson Report, which has been called ‘one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’. “It led to profound cultural changes in attitudes to racism, to the law and to police practice. It also paved the way for a greater understanding of discrimination of all forms and new equalities legislation.” https://stephenlawrenceday.org/stephens-story/
                Many UK cities have areas of social deprivation. I grew up in the post-war (WW2) years in what was called Austerity Britain. Coming to live in Sri Lanka in 2021 reminded me of the 1950s. This was also the beginning of independence for many countries and the beginning of immigration from those ex colonies
                To be continued

                • 3
                  1

                  Continued
                  I spent a couple of months teaching in Leicester which has a large immigrant population. I also worked with many 3rd generation British youth from immigrant families (Pakistan, India, Nigeria and the West Indies). They were educated, clever and ambitious, however they were very reluctant to join the family businesses and wished to create an independent life for themselves, whilst maintaining family ties.
                  As for skinheads, have a read of this BBC story https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-leicestershire-62306155
                  “This doesn’t mean Leicester is perfect. Like many other cities, you do have people who can still be racist. But I think Leicester has come such a long way since 50 years ago.”
                  The UK is not what it was back in the 60s and 70s. Very few people drink and drive nowadays due to social pressure, smoking cigarettes is also much reduced. I have personally known individuals that were fired from our company for racist behavior. Can you give examples of this in Sri Lanka? So please don’t tar everyone from Western countries with the same brush
                  Best Regards

            • 3
              1

              Sonali
              Perhaps LS does not know of Skinheads either.
              More Asians now have private cars than then, and avoid lonely places including some sub-ways. But racial violence exists (https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2021/4/1/its-time-to-talk-about-anti-asian-racism-in-the-uk).
              Also see “Asian hate crime in UK increases during pandemic” (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-56937299)
              That a particular woman was never harassed sexually does not mean no other woman is.

  • 14
    0

    Who is responsible for Terrorism?
    All those who were involved directly or/and indirectly in killing of innocent civilians are Terrorists.
    In this regard, Sri Lankan governments, Indian government, United Nations, EU and EU countries, China, Russia etc. have involved in various ways contributed to Terrorism. All these countries including Sri Lanka play their game according to their way suffocating innocent Tamils.But in fact most of the Buddhist Sinhala people become part of this programme in suffocating themselves.

    • 3
      10

      Who is?
      All but the terrorists!

  • 10
    3

    Under the MR and GR regimes the police and the armed forces were hard on any effort to commemorate the dead.
    Commemoration on 27 November (Maaveerar Thinam) was subject to much harassment until 2021 when there was a degree of relaxation of pressure by the police and the forces.
    People have short memories about the events of earlier years.
    Even then in 2021 Sarath Fonseka declared on behalf of the SJB and its leader SP that it was the position of the party that “Maaveerar Thinam” should be prohibited. (https://www.virakesari.lk/article/118378). but he defended the JVP’s annual commemoration of its martyrs.
    Things were far better in 2022 for the public with less restrictions and Ranil W was president at that time.
    *
    This year, police efforts to prohibit commemoration in various places were thwarted by the local courts.
    I do not rule out the possibility that RW turned a blind eye to whatever the police and armed forces did.
    But a balanced overview will be in order based on RW’s stand on the issues that have cropped up this year will be proper.
    His ‘true colours’ may not even be a shade duller than that of his rivals.

    • 4
      5

      “But a balanced overview will be in order based on RW’s stand on the issues that have cropped up this year and be proper.”

    • 3
      7

      “Commemoration on 27 November (Maaveerar Thinam) was subject to much”

      Could anyone refer me to the chapter and verse from the little red book where I could find historical reasons why the stupid Tamils have been commemorating Maaveerar Thinam (Great heroes day) on 27th November coincidentally a day after VP’s birthday (in fact the one week celebrations starts on the 21st November).

      Did VP designate the particular week to celebrate his birth day or is it about genuinely remembering fallen heroes? I read somewhere the first fallen hero was Pon Sivakumaran who died on 5 June 1974 (aged 23)by swallowing cyanide.

      I wonder why the Narcissistic VP did not designate 5th June being Maaveerar Thinam?

      nimal fernando let us have your reasons as to why VP chose 27 November and not 5th June.

      • 1
        0

        nimal fernando! Have you yet seen the entirety of this programme?
        .
        It is compulsory listening. It explains to us a lot about what’s been happening to our countries.
        .
        So, click on this:
        *************************************************
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np_ylvc8Zj8
        .
        *************************************************
        The programme is more than five years old, but I found it only yesterday, and spent many hours listening to bits, and taking it in.
        .
        It is long at 78 minutes, but not when you consider all that it deals with.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

        • 4
          0

          To understand the world, the universe, the other humans, ……….. we have to understand ourselves first. That’s where you should spend most of your time – understanding oneself/yourself.

          Why do Lankans feel so proud of their perfection of the language of the English? ………. Look at how much effort people have expended in that regard.

          Would we perfect the language of the Devil and feel proud about it? ……… Native and you seem to …….. OC, just to impress gals.

        • 4
          0

          SM,

          The video is a true criticism of the English. The English are the Devil/Satan/Beelzebub/Lucifer.

          Then why do we take such great pains to mimic the English?

          If we are taking such great efforts to mimic the Devil’s language, dress, manners, ………. there must be some good in the Devil ……. or there is something wrong with us.

          What say you? …….. Silence is not an answer.

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