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Government Moves Forward With Burqa And Niqab Ban

Sri Lanka Updates
1. Government Amplifies Prevention Of Terrorism Act In Sri Lanka
2. Under New PTA Regulations, 11 Muslim Groups Banned in Sri Lanka
3. Government Begins Framework For Anti-Conversion Laws
4. Unlawful PTA Allows For Detention Up To 18 Months Without Trial Or Charge In Sri Lanka
5. U.S. Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution On Sri Lanka To Seek Justice And Accountability 
6. Government Moves Forward With Burqa And Niqab Ban
7. Res 413 Has Been Sent To The U.S House Foreign Affairs Committee
8. European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed
9. UNHRC Chief Says Government Policies Have Targeted Muslims
10. Sri Lankan President Pardons 94, Including Convicted Murderer
11. China’s Oppression Of Muslims Could Be Influencing Srilanka
12. PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Declared A Prisoner Of Conscience
13. Threat Of Intergovernmental Militarization Looms
14. Right To Protest Under Threat As 42 Arrested
15. Rapporteur Says That De-radicalization Regulations Could Lead To Silence Of Those Who Criticize Government
16. Covid Burial Site Already Reaching Capacity As Additional Space Confirmed
17. Opposition Party Accuses President Of Becoming Authoritarian
18. UN Special Rapporteur Says PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Wrongfully Connected To Easter 2019
19. Prison Conditions Poor, Overcrowded; Detainees Tell Stories Of Sexual Assault And Torture
20. President Rajapaksa meets with UN Secretary General Antony Guterres
21. BBS Monk Thero Makes Hateful Comments About Muslims On Television
22. India, China, And Sri Lanka Are Connected In Targeted Oppression
23. Justice Minister Sabry Says PTA Is Unlikely To Ever Be Abolished

Sri Lanka’s government is continuing forward with its burqa ban. The Cabinet passed the ban on April 27 and it will most likely go through Parliament, which is controlled by the two-thirds majority People’s Freedom Alliance which is currently in power. The killing of cows will also be banned and many religious schools such as Islamic madrasas will be closed. Additionally, the Prevention of Terrorism Act’s (PTA) two new regulations have targeted minorities. These are the deradicalization centers and the banning of eleven Islamic organizations.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed said that banning burqas is incompatible with international law. He said that the freedom of expression guarantees the right to wear them. Sri Lanka’s own constitution maintains that all people are equal regardless of race, religion, caste, sex, language, political opinion or place of birth. Article 14 allows them to practice, worship, teach, and observe their own religion. Article 10 allows them to have their own religion or belief of their own choosing.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara stated that burkas were a threat to national security and a sign of extremism. The country has still allowed masks for Covid-19. Global Voices has pointed out that the ban is diverting attention from focusing on the deadly pandemic. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has long stated that there is no evidence that face veils pose a threat to security to justify banning them. HRW also said that the Sri Lankan Parliament should reject the ban and stop looking for excuses to attack minorities.

Former Sri Lankan Human RIghts Commissioner Ambika Satkunanathan filed a fundamental rights petition to the Supreme Court against the PTA’s deradicalization centers. The PTA was created in 1979 and has been connected to torture and disappearances. Under the new regulations, people can be detained for what authorities interpret to be extremism. Her petition states that there is a ‘lack of empirical data to support the assumption that religious ideology supports terrorism’.

In spite of the human rights violations which have targeted Muslim minorities, Pakistan’s High Commissioner has sought to strenghten ties with Sri Lanka. Muhammad Saad Khattak met with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 25 to discuss cultural heritage and religious tourism between the two countries.

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Burqa ban in Sri Lanka would undermine national security and human rights
Pakistan seeks to strengthen collaboration with Sri Lanka despite human rights concerns
Sri Lanka Face Covering Ban Latest Blow for Muslim Women
Former Sri Lankan Human Rights Commissioner petitions against Prevention of Terrorism Act

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