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Under New PTA Regulations, 11 Muslim Groups Banned in Sri Lanka

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 European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed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 Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) allows for warrantless arrests and detainment up to a year and a half with hardly any access to courts or counsel. There have been reports of torture, disappearances, and the loss of human rights. Investigations may begin after arrests and police do not need to give a reason for the arrest. 

New regulations were added to the PTA on March 21, 2021, which would deradicalize people deemed to be religious extremists and send them to rehabilitation camps. Arrests have already been happening since 2019 and beyond where 125 Muslims including two infants are being held in Kattankudy; some for simply owning items with Arabic writing. 

Arrests and detainment are based upon the subjective interpretation of the official at the time. This includes both words and actions. People may also be arrested for any “acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill will or hostility between different communities”.

Rehabilitation camps required all LTTE members to go after the end of the Civil War in 2009 and dozens disappeared. As posted in The Guardian, not only LTTE were rehabilitated, but as one woman said, “ordinary, poor people” who had nothing to do with the war were also forced into the camps. In total, up to 300,000 Tamils were imprisoned. 

Both international and local organizations including the United Nations have asked for its repeal. Sri Lanka’s previous government pledged to do so, but 2019’s Presidential winner Gotabaya Rajapaksa campaigned on battling “Islamic extremism”. 

Under new regulations, the Sri Lankan government also banned 11 Muslim groups, two of which are international terrorist organizations, while most are local faith groups. By grouping these together, the government has vilified innocent organizations through name combination association. In 2014, 16 Tamil diaspora organizations were also banned. 

In occupied East Turkestan, or what is referred to as Xinjiang, China, there are up to three million Uyghurs held in detention or concentration camps. This February, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage has denied that there is a genocide taking place or that there are detention centers in the region. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin also said at February’s United Nations Human Rights Council that Sri Lanka’s human rights record is an internal affair.

We thought that after burials would be permitted again things would be better in Sri Lanka, but they are rapidly growing worse. Through deradicalization camps, burka and hijab bans, the imminent shutdown of over 1,000 Islamic schools, and a ban on Islamic items coming into the country, Islamophobia and the targeting of minorities is on the rise in Sri Lanka.

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