හතුරන් හෙළි වුන දිනයේ
නොනැසුවොතින් උන් හනිකේ
පරිහානිය නිමක් නැතේ
— “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
1 7 May, 2013 Public Statement Condemn the Unlawful Arrest and Detention of Azath Salley and Call for his Immediate Release We the undersigned, vehemently condemn the arrest and detention of Former Deputy Mayor and General Secretary of the National Unity Alliance (NUA), Azath Salley, by a team of officers from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID), on Thursday, 2 May 2013 morning, and call for his immediate release in the absence of any demonstrable evidence. Mr. Salley was arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and he has been placed under detention for further interrogation by the CID for 3 months under Section 2(1)(h) of the PTA. Section 2(1)(h) states that a person who has committed an offence under the PTA “….by words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise causes or intends to cause commission of acts of violence or religious, racial or communal disharmony or feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities or racial or religious groups…” The unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Salley is in a context where there have been increasing attacks and threats against minorities, a growing spate of incidents of religious intolerance, and clamping down of critics of the Government and dissent on the whole. Mr. Salley has been a vocal critic of the extremist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the anti–Muslim activities of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), and has been actively involved in efforts to initiate legal action against both groups. He has also promoted minorities to unite against the racist rhetoric and actions of such groups. In addition, Mr. Salley has been publicly critical of the indirect support given to these elements by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. On 24 April 2013, in an interview to the Tamil Nadu bi-weekly magazine “Junior Vikatan”, Mr. 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.” Mr. Salley has later written to the magazine stating that he was misquoted. The magazine published a correction on 4 May 2013. Mr. Salley has been on a fast since his arrest on 2 May in protest against his unjust arrest, and demanding his release. Since his arrest, he has been moved from the 4th Floor of the CID to the National Hospital as he had collapsed due to lack of food, water and medication. There are concerns his condition can deteriorate if not urgently addressed, as he is a diabetic and in need of medication. He was initially refused visitors, including visits from his immediate family and lawyers, and was placed under heavy police guard. On 5 May, regardless of medical concerns, Mr. Salley had been moved back to the 4th Floor of the CID. 2 Mr. Salley’s had to be carried to the meeting room on the 4th Floor to meet with his lawyer yesterday (6). On seeing the deterioration in his condition, his lawyer had insisted that authorities re-hospitalize him immediately. We may not agree with all of Mr. Salley’s political positions, however we are deeply concerned with the treatment meted towards him which seems to be a result of his position against hate propaganda and opposition to extremist groups. Whilst we recognize the responsibility of the State to investigate hate speech and other actions aimed at inciting communal disharmony, we wish to highlight the lack of fair and due process on the part of the State in the unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Salley. Given the context and the charges, it would seem that Mr. Salley’s charges are politically motivated. We also note the speed with which the Government and State actors acted on the arrest of Mr. Salley based on a misquoted interview. This is in a context of an increasing number of instances of hate speech and violence in Sri Lanka, with evidence publicly available identifying the perpetrators. Unfortunately, such incidents have not been independently investigated and perpetrators brought to account. Sadly, this incident is yet another reminder that the Government has resorted to strong-arm tactics to silence and harass critics, while turning a blind eye when actual incidents of violence occur. It is of serious concern as to the reasons for this unlawful arrest and the detention of Mr. Salley, and it sends a chilling reminder to all critics of the Government of reprisals. We, the undersigned call for his immediate release. Signed by: Clergy 1. Rt. Rev. Kumara Illangasinghe – Bishop of Colombo, Anglican Church 2. Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris 3. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos 4. Rev. Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando 5. Rev. Fr. Samuel J. Ponniah 6. Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda 7. Rev. Fr. Sherard Jayawardane 8. Rev. Fr. Terrence Fernando 9. Rev. Jason J. Selvaraja - Senior Pastor, Assembly of God - Chavakachcheri 10. Rev. Sr. Deepa Fernando3 Organizations 11. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) 12. Interfaith Cooperation Forum 13. Women's Action Network Individuals 14. A. Theva Rajan QSM - President, New Zealand Tamil Senior Citizens Association 15. Aaranya Rajasingam 16. Ahilan Kadirgamar 17. Aingkaran Kugathasan 18. Ainslie Joseph – Convenor, Christian Alliance for Social Action (CASA) 19. Amal de Chickera 20. Ameena Hussein 21. Ameer M Faaiz - Attorney-at-law 22. Anberiya Haniffa 23. Anushya Coomaraswamy 24. B. Gowthaman - Attorney-at-law 25. Balasingham Skanthakumar 26. Bhavani Fonseka 27. Bruce Van Voorhis 28. Caryll Perera 29. Chamindra Chathurinee 30. Chandra Jayaratne - Former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce 31. Chandraguptha Thenuwara - Artist 32. Deanne Uyangoda4 33. Deshini Liyanaarachchi 34. Dinidu de Alwis 35. Dilshy Banu 36. Dinesh D. Dodamgoda 37. Dr. Anita Nesiah 38. Dr. Lionel Bopage 39. Dr. P. Setunga 40. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu 41. Emil van der Poorten - Retiree Community Activist 42. Faiz-ur Rahman 43. Farzana Haniffa 44. Farzath Faiz 45. Fawwazah Muhammad 46. Mohamed Raffai Mohamed Fouzi 47. Hans Billimoria 48. Hameed Abdul Karim 49. Imran Mohamed Ali 50. Infiyaz Mohamed Ali 51. Iromi Perera 52. Jayanthi Gunewardena 53. Jehan Perera 54. Jensila Majeed 55. Juwairiya Mohideen 56. K.J. Brito Fernando – President, Families of the Disappeared5 57. K.S. Ratnavale 58. Kumaravadivel Guruparan 59. Kumari Kumaragamage 60. Kumi Samuel 61. Kusal Perera 62. Lal Wijenayake - Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) 63. Lasantha Rahunuge - Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association 64. Latheef Farook 65. Mahaluxumy Kurushanthan 66. Manjula Gajanayake 67. Marisa de Silva 68. Mano Ganesan – Leader, Democratic People’s Front (DPF) 69. Mathuri Thamilmaran 70. Megara Tegal 71. Melani Manel Perera - Journalist 72. Melisha Yapa 73. Mirak Raheem 74. Mohamed Hisham 75. Mohamed Shammas 76. Muhammad Nasir 77. Nazli Mohamed Ali 78. Nicola Perera 79. Nigel V. Nugawela 80. Nirmanusan Balasundaram - Independent Journalist/Human Rights Advocate 81. Nishan de Mel – Economist6 82. Niyanthini Kadirgamar – Researcher 83. Nooranie Muthaliph 84. P.N. Singham 85. Paba Deshapriya 86. Prabu Deepan 87. Priya Thangarajah 88. Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne - University of Kelaniya 89. Prof. Kumar David 90. R. Cheran 91. R.M.B. Senanayake 92. Rajani Chandra 93. Rohan Salgadoe 94. Rosanna Flamer-Caldera 95. Sabra Zahid 96. Sampath Samarakoon 97. Sanjaya Senanayake 98. Sanoon Mohideen 99. Sarala Emmanuel 100. Selvi Sachithanandam – Chairperson, Poornam Foundation 101. Selvy Thiruchandran 102. Shamala Kumar - University of Peradeniya 103. Shanthi Sachithanandam 104. Shehan de Alwis 105. Shehan Shakoor 106. Shreen Saroor7 107. Siritunga Jayasuriya - United Socialist Party 108. Srinath Perera – Attorney-at-law 109. Sumathy Sivamohan 110. Sunanda Deshapriya 111. Sunil Jayasekera - Free Media Movement 112. Sunil Wijesiriwardena 113. Suren D. Perera – Activist Attorney-at-law 114. Thiruni Kelegama 115. Udaya Kalupathirana - INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre 116. Uvais Mohamed Ali 117. Visaka Dharmadasa