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Right To Protest Under Threat As 42 Arrested

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 European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed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

In November 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the presidential election with 6.9 million votes and his party had two thirds of the Parliament by the following August. A year later, his popularity is decaying, strikes have risen in health, railway, education, electricity and other sectors, and multiple international Resolutions have been drawn against his government.

As recently as August 4, 900 people in the education field protested outside of the Presidential Secretariat’s house, amidst coronavirus concerns. 42 of them were arrested, on charges of violating quarantine and other violations. Last week, many were concerned about a new bill which would possibly militarize education by allowing the military greater access to administration and school policy.

Many people are upset with the government’s foreign policies and ties to the Chinese Communist Party. China acquired Colombo Port for 99 years through business deals under the Rajapaksa government.

Perhaps with the incoming pressure, the government is attempting to save face, as minor changes have been made, but nothing significant. 93 prisoners were released in late June, but only 16 of them were Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) detainees.

Prison inmates are also being vaccinated for Covid-19 for the first time. Those at Magazine, Colombo, and Welikada will be receiving the Sinopharm dose. Many prisoners in Sri Lanka are susceptible to the virus as they may be in close quarters. Prisoner of conscience Hejaaz Hizbullah tested positive for it while detained even though he was not allowed prisoners and had been isolated.

The latest move was the Supreme Court’s suspension of the deradicalization regulations. The Court issued an Interim Order to suspend the PTA’s deradicalization regulations until the hearing on August 24.

Journalists and human rights activists Ruwan Laknath Jayakody, Kavindya Christopher Thomas, Centre for Policy Alternative and its Executive Director Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Shreen Saroor recently filed Fundamental Rights petitions stating that the regulations were invalid. In their petitions, they cited various sections of the Constitution which the regulations infringed on the rights of arrestees and or detainees. People are detained without evidence and it is then justified by these regulations they added.

The Supreme Court also took PTA detainee Ahnaf Jazeem’s case today. He will now be allowed access to lawyers at Colombo Remand prison with “lawyer client privilege and confidentiality.” Jazeem was detained for allegations of promoting extremism and violence to children through his poetry. Scholars who have reviewed his poetry have said that they have not found any signs of this.

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The Rajapaksa Dynasty in Sri Lanka: Democracy in Decline
SC suspends the operation of Deradicalization Regulations
Over 900 protest outside Presidential Secretariat
Vaccination of prison inmates commences
42 arrested for staging protest outside Presidential Secretariat
Poet Ahnaf’s FR case taken up today(04 July)
SC allows lawyers to access remanded Poet Ahnaf Jazeem

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