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  • Sri Lanka court orders release of lawyer held for two years
    A Sri Lankan court has ordered the release on bail of a lawyer arrested over his alleged links to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings and held for nearly two years on charges rights groups say lacked credible evidence. Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested in April 2020 and accused of being linked to the attacks on churches and hotels that left 279 people dead. But after prosecutors failed to provide evidence of his involvement in the attacks, blamed on a local group, he was instead Read More...
  • Hejaaz Hizbullah leaves from remand custody
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah today left from remand custody after fulfilling his bail conditions before Puttlalam High Court.

    He was incarcerated for 22 months for allegedly committing offences come under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.Last Monday (07), the Court of Appeal ordered to release Hizbullah on bail pursuant to a revision application filed on behalf him.Hizbullah was ordered to be released on a cash bail of Rs.100,000 with two sureties of Rs.500,000 by Puttlalam High Court Judge Kumari Abeyratne. He was further ordered to report to the DIG office of Puttalam Police Division every second and fourth Sunday of every month.An indictment under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act has now been served on Hejaaz Hizbullah. According to the indictment, Hizbullah...
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  • හිජාස් ගෙදර යයි

    (නිමන්ති රණසිංහ සහ හිරාන් ප්‍රියංකර ජයසිංහ) ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත සහ සිවිල් හා දේශපාලන අයිතීන් පිළිබද ජාත්‍යන්තර සම්මුති පනත ප්‍රකාරව චෝදනා ලැබ වසර දෙකකට ආසන්න කාලයක් රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටි නිතීඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණ නියෝගය ප්‍රකාරව ඇප මත මුදාහැරීමට පුත්තලම මහාධිකරණය අද (09)...
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  • Court of Appeal grants bail on Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Court of Appeal today ordered to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail after nearly two years in detention and remand custody. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal directed the Puttalam High Court to release Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail with suitable bail conditions. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala made this order taking into consideration a revision application filed on behalf of Hejaaz Hizbullah. The Attorney General did not raise objections to release Hizbullah on bail. On January 28, an application made by the defence requesting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail was rejected by Puttalam High Court.   The High Court Judge Kumari Abeyrathne refused to grant bail citing that she has no jurisdiction to grant bail under the Prevention of Terrorism...
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  • Attorney at law Hejaaz Hizbullah granted bail
    Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah has been granted bail by the Court of Appeal after being detained for over 20 months. Hizbullah was released on bail today after the Puttalam High Court judge refused to grant bail to him last month. Refusing bail, she claimed that it was not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General having consented to grant bail. The judge further informed the defense to request bail from the Court of Appeal on the 9th of February 2022. The bail application had been filed at the Puttalam High Court after Hizbullah’s lawyer had agreed to a settlement with the other parties in the interest of his client. On 20th January, the Attorney General’s (AG) Department said it has no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. The AG’s Department informed the Court of Appeal that the bail...
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  • සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි - දොස්තර ශාෆි කියන කතාව
    “හිර කුටියේදී එයාල මට ලීටර් එක හමාරෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බීම බෝතලයක් තියාගන්න ඉඩ දුන්නා. කාටවත් කොට්ට දුන්නෙ නෑ. ඒත් බිම ඔලුව තියාගෙන ඉන්නකොට මට නින්ද යන්නෙ නෑ. බෝතලේ වතුරෙන් පුරවල ටිකක් වතුර ඉවත් කළාම ඒක ටිකක් නම්‍ය වෙනවා. මම සී.අයි.ඩියෙ හිටිය දවස් 46ම නිදාගත්තෙ ප්ලාස්ටික් බෝතලේ ඔලුවට තියාගෙනයි. මම ඒකට හුරු වුණා.” ශාෆි සහාබ්දීන් එම...
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  • Trial of Hejaaz Hizbullah: Main witness flounders
    AG request to amend indictment refused The main witness in the case against Hejaaz Hizbullah, the 18-year-old Mohomed Malik on Friday, failed to give any evidence relating to the charge during his testimony when the case was heard at the Puttalam High Court.

    The young witness floundered when questioned as to the time period of the alleged incident at which Hizbullah is said to have made a speech and the contents of the speech.  As a result, right before the adjournment for lunch, the Attorney General (AG) requested the High Court Judge to amend the indictment. The Defence objected to it by pointing out that the indictment filed was based on repeated statements by the witness to the CID. They said that the statements to the CID by the witness, including statements...
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  • Revision application seeking bail for Hejaaz Hizbullah reserved for Feb.7
    The order regarding a bail application filed on behalf of Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah was today reserved for February 7 by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Menaka Wijesundera and Justice Neil Iddawala announced that the order on whether bail would be granted or not to Hejaaz Hizbullah will be delivered next Monday (7). Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya appearing for Attorney General informed the Court of Appeal that the prosecution is not objecting to release Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah on bail. This application was called before the Court of Appeal through a motion after the Puttalam High Court decides to refuse bail for Hejaaz Hizbullah on January 28. President's Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Hizbullah contended that the Court of Appeal has Inherent...
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  • හිජාස්ට ඇප දෙනවා ද? නැද්ද?
    (රන්ජන් කටුගම්පොල සහ නිමන්ති රණසිංහ ) රක්ෂිත බන්ධනාගාර ගත කර සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා ඇප මත මුදා හරිනවා ද? නැද්ද? යන්න සම්බන්ධයෙන් වන නියෝගය ලබන  07 වැනිදා ප්‍රකාශයට පත්කරන බව අභියාචනාධිකරණය අද (02) දැනුම් දුන්නේය. තමන් ඇප මත මුදා හරින ලෙසට ඉල්ලා නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා අභියාචනාධිකරණයට ගොනුකර තිබූ පෙත්සමක් අද...
    Read More...
  • Court refuses to grant bail to Hejaaz Hizbullah
    The Puttalam High Court has refused to grant bail to Attorney-at-law Hejaaz Hizbullah who has been detained for over 20 months. The judge has refused the bail order as it is not under her jurisdiction, despite the Attorney General’s consent to grant bail bail. The Attorney General’s (AG) Department said on January 20 that it had no objections to releasing Hizbullah on bail subject to conditions. https://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Court-refuses-to-grant-bail-to-Hejaaz-Hizbullah/108-230030 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
    Read More...
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Sri Lanka 'on the brink' amid fresh anti-Muslim violence

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Sri Lanka 'on the brink' amid fresh anti-Muslim violence
Mob attacks in Kandy are targeted and well planned, witnesses say, as fears grow over threats to Sri Lanka's stability.

Ambatenna, Sri Lanka - The Sinhalese Buddhist mob came by the hundreds, screaming at the top of their lungs and carrying sticks, stones and petrol bombs, as they descended on the hill town of Ambatenna in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Some two dozen policemen and soldiers watched helplessly, according to residents, as the mob vandalised and set fire to Muslim homes and businesses in the town's Welekada area.

"We were so scared," Fathima Zameer told Al Jazeera, clutching her three-week-old infant as she recounted the violence that swept through her neighbourhood that morning.

"We have nowhere to go. They broke all the windows in my house. Our whole house is burnt."

The mob, which witnesses said was between 200 and 500-strong, overran Welekada defying a curfew and a state of emergency imposed by President Maithiripala Sirisena a day earlier to quell anti-Muslim riots that began in the highland district of Kandy over the weekend.

In Welekada, rioters vandalised at least 15 houses belonging to Sri Lanka's Muslim minority and a mosque, residents told Al Jazeera. Four of the buildings and several vehicles were also torched.

The attacks have raised fears of a return to conflict and instability in Sri Lanka, less than a decade after the South Asian island nation ended a bloody civil war with Tamil separatists.

The latest bout of communal violence began on Sunday when a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority died after being beaten by a group of Muslim men over a traffic accident in the town of Teledeniya in Kandy, an area famous for its tea plantations and Buddhist religious sites.

The next day, hundreds of Sinhala Buddhists, mostly outsiders, according to officials and residents, poured into Kandy and attacked and torched dozens of Muslim businesses, houses and mosques. The body of a 23-year-old Muslim man was found in a burned building, and the government, fearing more violence, imposed a state of emergency on Tuesday. It also deployed the army and extended a police curfew in the region.

The violence, however, continued. Overnight on Wednesday "several incidents" were reported in four towns, said Ruwan Gunasekara, a police spokesman.

Three police officers were injured during clashes in Menikhinna, he said. Later in the day, Ambatenna was attacked and a Sinhalese man was killed there after a hand grenade he was carrying exploded.

Gunasekara said security forces have arrested about 35 people since the riots began.

The government has also suspended internet services in the area and blocked access to Facebook and other social messaging applications including Whatsapp and Viber in an attempt to halt incendiary rumours.

'We don't feel safe'
Shukry Cassim, whose four-bedroom house was vandalised in Welekada, said he was "petrified".

"We don't feel safe. All our children are traumatised. We don't know where to go, or who to trust," the 27-year-old accountant told Al Jazeera, standing in front of the burned hulk of his car in his garage.

"We don't know why this is happening. The mob is not from our area. We don't know them," he said. "But they couldn't have done this without the support of people from our area because they have targeted the Muslim houses, and excluded the non-Muslim houses."

Cassim, however, said the violence was instigated by "a few people".

Relations between Muslims and Buddhists in the Kandy district have been historically harmonious, he said, adding: "We share food during religious festivals, we play together and buy goods from each other's shops."

Analysts say tensions flared up between the two communities because of the rise of Buddhist nationalist groups following the end of the country's three-decade war. These groups include the monk-led Bodu Bala Sena, which has links to Buddhist hardline groups in Myanmar.

They are widely perceived to have the support of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, and accuse the Muslims, who make up 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 21 million population, of forcing people to convert to Islam and of destroying sacred Buddhist sites. Prior to the Kandy riots, at least three other major incidents of anti-Muslim violence have been reported in the past year.

"Sri Lanka is on the brink," said Alan Keenan, a researcher at the International Crisis Group.

"These attacks are organised, well-planned," he said. "And there is good reason to believe they are partly designed to provoke a Muslim response, which would then justify more violence against Muslims." 

The Muslim community has "been admirably restrained" so far, he said. But if the minority retaliates by attacking the Sinhalese community, "other Sinhalese will then feel threatened and participate in a way they haven't yet".

Police inaction
Keenan also said he was concerned by the inability of the army and the police to control the riots.

"The reason for this is unclear - whether they [the security forces] have been badly deployed, or deployed in inadequate numbers. What worries me is the hypothesis that some significant degree of the police and military are sympathetic to the rioters, which would not be surprising," he said, referring to reports of state collusion in the clashes that broke out between Muslims and Buddhists in 2014 which left four dead and many injured.

A third factor may be that security forces are "cautious" to act, Keenan said, because of Sirisena's coalition government's humiliating defeat to Rajapakse's party in local council elections in February.

Sirisena ousted Rajapakse, who is accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, in 2015 after campaigning on a platform of national reconciliation and constitutional reform. However, the coalition that brought the president to power was in tatters ahead of the February vote.

Rajapakse's party win "emboldened" Sinhala Buddhist hardline groups and "more crucially, police and other state officials are now more likely to hedge their bets," said Keenan.

"They [the police] may not be sure if they should go after the rioters. Because they are known to have the sympathy, if not the active support of Rajapakse and his people.

"If Rajapakse and his people are going to be running the government soon, which is possible, a police officer wouldn't want to be known as the courageous guy who did his duty and stopped the violence."

Government in jeopardy
If the clashes continued, said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a Colombo-based think-tank, the future of Sirisena's government could be in jeopardy.

"Some say [the riots are instigated] to show that this government is incompetent and incapable," he said. "Others say this is to create instability, which will expedite yet another regime change."

Urging Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremasinghe to "act fast, quickly and decisively," Saravanamuttu said security forces must arrest perpetrators of the violence and "it should be communicated to the country at large that we are a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country and we intend to stay so".

The conflict could also affect Sri Lanka's economic recovery after decades of war, he warned.

"If we continue with emergencies and blocking social media, tourists are not going to come and investors are going to start thinking twice," he said.

Back in Welekade, Zameer said she was "hurt" and "heartbroken" by the violence.

"We want safety and security. We don't want anyone to face this," she said.

Cassim echoed her sentiments: "I have tasted the bitterness of war. And I want peace."

Irfan Cader reported from Ambatenna. Zaheena Rasheed reported and wrote from Doha.

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/sri-lanka-brink-fresh-anti-muslim-violence-180307203031915.html

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