On 20 April 2013, in an interview to the Tamil Nadu bi-weekly magazine “Junior Vikatan”, Azath 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.” Salley has later written to the magazine stating that he was misquoted. The magazine published a correction on 4 May 2013.
When Azath Salley was arrested on Thursday May 2nd the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) Director General Lakshman Hulugalle said that Salley was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department following several complaints received by the CID regarding conduct which could damage ethnic harmony, and harm national unity. Hulugalle said that Salley was taken into custody under Section 120 of the Penal Code and provisions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Hulugalle reportedly stated that Salley had violated clause 21 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and section 120 of the Penal Code. He (Salley) had incited people with the aim of causing damage to ethnic and religious harmony, in the guise of agitating against the government.
When Tamil National Alliance MP and Lawyer MA Sumanthiran visited him at ward 55 of the Colombo National hospital , Azath Salley told Sumanthiran that the Police so far had questioned him only about an interview he had given to the Tamil Nadu bi-weekly“Junior Vikatan”.
We publish below the translation of the said interview;
MUSLIMS WILL ALSO TAKE UP ARMS- SAYS AZAD SALLY
(Saturday, 20 April 2013, 06:50 AM GMT) (VIKETAN)
We met the participant at the seminar on ‘The Right of Sri Lankan Tamils’ organized by the Popular Front of India, in Chennai.
Q: There is news that attack against Muslims has started in Sri Lanka?
A: The first attack in Sri Lanka was against Muslims in the riots of 1915 between Sinhalese and Muslims.
Recently in 2011, after the war with the Tigers, a Dharga in Anuradhapura was demolished by Buddhist monks in the presence of the police.
In 2012 a mosque in Dambulla was demolished. By demolishing over 10 mosques and madrasas, the Sinhalese have started attacking the Muslims openly.
No one pays any attention to the fact that soldiers are harassing Muslim women wearing the burqua.
Their intentions can be gauged from the statement of the Rajapakse-supporting Sinhala party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya, that a war like that of 1915 is unavoidable.
As a first step to this war, the issue of Halal certification has been banned in Sri Lanka.
If so, there will be no alternative to taking up arms. For saying this, the The Bodu Bala Sena has said that I should be arrested.
Q: What actions have you taken to ensure the safety of the Muslims?
A: When America brought forward the resolution on Sri Lanka, I submitted an appeal that the safety of the minority Tamils, Muslims and Christians should be also assured.
Further, we requested the Ambassadors of 24 countries, including those of 8 Muslim countries supportive of Sri Lanka and demanded that they speak on behalf of the minorities.
We are trying to bring this issue to the attention of the world community.
Q: There was information before that the Tamils and Muslims were alienated. How is the situation now?
A: The Muslims were driven out of the territory under Tiger control before. From then the Muslim organizations started to differ. The Tigers should not have done that. If they had embraced the Muslims, the situation could have developed differently. Prabhaharan missed several opportunities. This has been beneficial only to the Rajapaksa family.
Q: The actions (activities) of Rajapaksa?
A: His only proclamation is that he has won against the Tigers. The Rajapaksa family which was without anything is today being transformed into the most prosperous family in Asia.
His relatives who were working abroad in super markets and petrol stations are ministers today.
They are travelling to neighbouring countries for discussions. They have captured the media. Only the Rajapaksa family members are at the head of all governmental agencies.
Gotabaya is guiding the Bodu Bala Sena with the intention of taking the message amongst the Sinhala people that Rajapaksa is the only soldier (Hero) for the Sinhalese.
They think the Rajapaksa Senior is the president and Gotabaya, Basil and Namal are also presidents. Confiscating people’s properties is Namal Rajapaksa’s occupation.
They divided various occupations among themselves: taking commissions on government tenders is Basil’s share and changing Sri Lanka into a Buddhist country is Gotabaya’s share.
It is on the basis of this confidence that he has changed the rule that one person can be president for only two terms, to that where one can be president any number of times.
Presidential elections can be held now only once in four years, but the president is engaged in actions to make it possible to hold elections every three years.
Because his party has the majority now, he plans to hold the presidential election again, win and then conduct the general elections.
However, Tamils and Muslims will not vote for Rajapaksa. He cannot win the confidence of these communities ever.