Activists and international institutions call for the “immediate” suspension of the Prevention of Terrorism Law (Pta) promoted by the Sri Lankan authorities. The complaint was filed on the occasion of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council. Religious of Sri Lanka: it is a law inspired by the “criterion of revenge”, nothing has changed under the Wickremesinghe government.
Colombo () – Sri Lankan Christian activists and international institutions, including the European Union, have called on the government to suspend with “immediate” effect a law used in an “inhumane” way to attack citizens. The controversy centers on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), used in the recent past to attack peaceful demonstrators, as EU representatives denounced at the UN Human Rights Council.
On the occasion of the 51st session, which opened these days, the European delegates reaffirmed their commitment to human rights, reconciliation and accountability of those responsible for the violence in the Asian country. Even as the country faces enormous challenges such as street protests and changing government leadership, it remains crucial to guarantee human rights and basic freedoms, “including marginalized and vulnerable individuals and groups.”
In terms of human rights, the Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) also intervened, strongly condemning the anti-terrorist law. He demanded that it be withdrawn “immediately” because it is a source of “inhuman repression.” During a press conference organized by the Maradana Center for Society and Religion, Father Sarath Iddamalgoda reported the arrest of “some 3,000 activists” and said that “at least 1,200 ended up in jail.” Some were detained under the PTA and “about 20 are young Tamils”. “Is it wrong to fight for basic needs like food?” asks the priest, saying that a protest cannot be equated with an “act of terrorism.”
Sister Rasika Peiris, also a member of the CSM, joins this call and stands in solidarity with the young people who took to the streets to fight against social injustice, economic inequality and widespread poverty. And, for this reason, they were victims of brutal repression at the hands of the police forces that acted with impunity thanks to the anti-terrorist law. “Here they acted according to the criterion of personal revenge”, accuses the nun, “and not applying the Law”, for which it is even more urgent that “the law be annulled immediately”, since it now allows that in the south perpetrate the same abuses that the north suffered in the past [en la época de la guerra contra los tamiles].
The lawyer and human rights activist Nuwan Bopege also spoke at the 51st session of the UN, denouncing the abuses and distortions associated with the law in question. The government’s violent response to popular protests leaves no room for optimism,” he notes, “even under the administration of [Ranil] Wickremesinghe. Many peaceful protesters – myself included – have been arrested since the president took office.” In this climate, the activist concludes, “it is crucial that the Council promote accountability for human rights violations, atrocities of war and economic-related crimes. And furthermore, we must ensure that those responsible for the Holy Week massacres are brought to justice.”