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  • SL human rights situation seriously deteriorated under Gotabaya’s Govt.: Report shows
    Sri Lanka’s human rights situation has seriously deteriorated under the administration of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2021.

    Government security forces have increased intimidation and surveillance of human rights activists, victims of past abuses, lawyers, and journalists. Minority Muslim and Tamil communities have faced discrimination and threats. The government pushed through passage of a constitutional amendment that undermines judicial independence and weakens oversight institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. In February, Sri Lanka withdrew its commitments to the 2015 United Nations Human Rights Council for truth-seeking, accountability, and reconciliation following the country’s long civil war.

    “The Rajapaksa administration has quickly reversed...
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  • Politics Behind Muslim Burial

    Dr. Ameer Ali No scientist or epidemiologist anywhere in the world has so far proved with solid evidence that corona virus would spread from buried corona-killed corpses. Only in Sri Lanka a so-called committee of health experts belonging to the establishment, expressed an opinion that because of high water level in the ground that virus has the potential to spread, if those died from it are buried. Hence, they recommended indiscriminate cremation hitting directly at religious sensitivity of Muslims. No amount of protest from local Muslims or from Muslim organizations abroad, and not even advice from WHO to the contrary could convince President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to relent. The President maintains that unless the experts committee shows the green light he will not budge. This is...
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  • හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්නලා බිල්ලා මවනවා
    (යොහාන් භාසුර)   ශානි අබේසේකර සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වැනි පුද්ගලයන් පෙන්වා බිල්ලන් මවා ජාතිවාදය වපුරවමින් රට විනාශ නොකරන ලෙස සමඟ ජනබලවේග මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පාර්ලිමේන්තු විවාදයට එක්වෙමින් පැවසීය.  එහිදී මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේ ද පැවසීය.

    “ශානි අබේසේකර, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්වලා මේ...
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  • CID dont produce Hizbullah , say positive for Covid 19
    The Criminal Invesitgations Department which were scheduled to produce detained Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah this afternoon before the Fort magistrate , did not produce him and informed court that he had been tested positive for Covid 19. Mr. Hizbullahs wife , attorneys and the Court were informed by officers of the CID that he would be produced today at 2. 00 PM at the Fort Magistrates court. Officers of the CID informed court staff that they intend producing Hizbullah following which Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage had made order that the case be taken up at 2. 00 PM today. The news of production came after Mr. Romesh De Silva PC supported a writ application for lawyers access and made representations on behalf of Mr. Hizbullah. Earlier a writ application was filed before the court of appeal seeking access to detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah...
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  • Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers
    On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran made some terse remarks given the limited time allotted to him.
    He justified the need for an international inquiry and international judicial process to look into serious crimes committed in this country which has an impact on international law. In order to drive home his point, he alluded to several instances and, euphemistically made reference to the “depths to which your judicial system has sunk”. As a recent example he cited Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah, an Attorney at Law who is currently in detention. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran said, “a brilliant young lawyer denied justice for eight months. All kinds of false allegations were made against him.”  Further, he drew attention to the fact that...
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  • To Burn Or To Bury? The Deadly Question
    To burn or to bury? That has become the bedeviling Covid-19 question in Sri Lanka with no respect for the dead and no empathy for those who are left to mourn. According to WHO guidelines, Covid-19 victim’s bodies are not infectious, unless other complications are involved – such as hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg) or cholera. In general, dead bodies themselves are not infectious, but body fluids are and they secrete even after death. So, there is universal insistence on and compliance with the protocols for handing dead bodies, not only by funeral workers but also by families. But the question, whether cremation or burial, is a redundant question and it has been unnecessarily overwrought. But only in Sri Lanka, and chiefly by the  government itself.

    For perspective, there have been public protests against cremating Covid-19...
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  • Behind The Muslim Burial Issue
    By Ameer Ali –

    In no country in the world except Sri Lanka and perhaps its “predator” ally China that Muslims are cremated when they die because of Covid-19; and no epidemiologist, virologist or medical expert in the world except the chief health officer in Sri Lanka believes that Corona virus would spread if the victims are buried. This officer spuriously justified his stand on the ground that the underground water level in the country is too high. His argument, backed by a so-called soil scientist, Meththika Vithanage from Jayawardenapura University, who wrote, “break the ground and infect us all”, has now been accepted as heavenly truth by sections of local Buddhist clergy, members of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga and Rajapaksa’s government. Allowing burial for Muslims is to bury the regime itself, said one such...
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  • අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ
    අමාත්‍යංශ නියෝගය එනතුරු සිරුර ශීතාගාරයේ (සිරංගිකා ලොකුකරවිට)
    ගාල්ල දෙද්දුගොඩ ප්‍රදේශයේ පදිංචිව සිටිය දී කොරෝනා ආසාදනය වීමෙන් මියගිය පුද්ගලයාගේ මළ සිරුරු ආදාහනය නොකර ශීතාගාරයක තබන ලෙස ගාල්ල අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත් පවිත්‍රා සංජීවනී පතිරණ මත්මිය අද (21) නියෝග කළාය. අතිරේක මහේස්ත්‍රාත්වරිය මෙම නියෝගය කළේ, එම...
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  • ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන්ට මව්බිමේ මිහිදන්වීමට අයිතිය දිය යුතුයි
    ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන්ට මව්බිමේ මිහිදන්වීමට අයිතිය දිය යුතුයි (නිමල කොඩිතුවක්කු) ඕනෑම ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයෙක්ට තම මරණයෙන් පසු ගෞරවාන්විතව සිය මව්බිමෙහි මිහිදන්වීමට ඇති අයිතියට ඉඩ දිය යුතු බව සාධාරණ සමාජයක් සදහා වූ ජාතික ව්‍යාපාරයේ සභාපති හිටපු කථානායක කරු ජයසූරිය මහතා සඳහන් කරයි. ලෝක සෞඛ්‍ය සංවිධානය හා එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ සංවිධානය...
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  • Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers
    By Mass L. Usuf Mass Usuf On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Read More...
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Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months

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The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the EU and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns on the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah [Photo courtesy: Family]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the EU and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns on the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah [Photo courtesy: Family]

Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months

Rights groups and members of civil society have raised concerns over the continued incarceration of a Muslim lawyer in Sri Lanka, adding that his prolonged detention “had a chilling effect on anyone involved in peaceful dissent and advocacy”.

Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent human rights lawyer, was arrested on “terrorism” charges in April and has remained in detention without charges, with rights groups saying he has been denied due process rights.

Sri Lankan authorities said he had been detained for links to the perpetrators of the 2019 Easter Bombings, which left more than 250 people dead and injured more than 500 – the Indian Ocean island nation’s worst attack since the end of civil war in 2009.  Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the police had not presented “any credible evidence” against Hizbullah, adding that he was denied his due process rights and kept in custody despite calls from UN experts “that prison populations must be reduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19”.  The president’s spokesperson Mohan Samaranayake did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.  Hizbullah, a lawyer at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, was arrested under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows the government to detain suspects without charge and or having to present them before a judge.  “Even though the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration has said that it does not want to continue its support to the Human Rights Council resolution, the Sri Lankan government remains obliged to keep its pledges, including to repeal PTA, regardless of the party that might be in power,” Ganguly added.  A person can be detained for 90 days under the PTA, with the option to renew the incarceration period for another 90 days for up to 18 months.  The New York-based HRW has dubbed the PTA a “draconian” law, one that the previous Sri Lankan government headed by Maithripala Sirisena pledged to revoke in a 2015 Human Rights Council resolution.  Rights groups have raised concerns over shrinking space for dissent since President Gotabaya Rajapaksa – a Buddhist hardliner – took power last November on the promise to boost security in the island nation in the wake of the deadly bombings.  In August, the HRW said the government of President Gotabaya has waged “a campaign of fear and intimidation against human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, and others challenging government policy”.  According to Thyagi Ruwanpathiran, South Asia researcher at Amnesty International, Hizbullah’s arrest “had a chilling effect on anyone involved in peaceful dissent and advocacy, be it lawyers, human rights defenders or members of the minority Muslim community”.  “There is a real fear of being targeted for your professional work where you could suffer reprisals from the state,” she told Al Jazeera.  The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the European Union and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have also expressed their concerns regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah.  A local magistrate court in the capital, Colombo, is hearing his case again on October 28, but activists say there is little hope of bail.  ‘Pure fabrication’ Of the several accusations made against Hizbullah include his relationship with Yusuf Mohammad Ibrahim, a business owner, whose sons Inshaf and Ilham were two of the seven perpetrators of the Easter Sunday bombings. Hizbullah was Ibrahim’s lawyer.  Hizbullah, along with Ibrahim, also served on the board of the Save the Pearl charity, which works with underprivileged children.  Ilham also served on the board briefly in 2016 briefly, until he was asked to step down, a report by Amnesty International said. According to the human rights group, these associations with Ibrahim and Save the Pearl were being used to detain Hizbullah.

“The detention order says that Hejaaz [Hizbullah] is being investigated for allegedly ‘aiding and abetting’ the Easter Sunday bombers and for engaging in activities deemed ‘detrimental to the religious harmony among communities'”, the Amnesty report said.

Another accusation against Hizbullah is that he indirectly, through a school funded by Save the Pearl, fed “extremist” ideas and thoughts to children between the ages of 8-13, Hafeel Farisz, one of Hizbullah’s lawyers, told Al Jazeera.

The children from Al-Zuhriya Arabic College in Puttalam district were interrogated by the police for several days in April, during which they were threatened and coerced into accusing Hizbullah of providing “terrorist” training, said the lawyer.

Farisz said the children described accusations against Hizbullah as “pure fabrication”.

It was also revealed in the media that the children questioned had filed for legal action against the police for “infringement of their fundamental rights”.

‘Real fear’
Critics say Hizbullah was targeted because of his work on interfaith relations and reconciliation amid rising Islamophobia in the island nation fraught with sectarian and ethnic divide.

Hilmy Ahmed, CEO of Young Asia Television, told Al Jazeera from Colombo that Hizbullah was a “victim of the hate campaign that has been staged-managed by extremist Buddhists”.

“Hejaaz [Hizbullah] is a non-violent and extremely values-based individual who would never promote any form of extremism let alone violence,” Ahmed said, adding he had known the accused for more than 20 years.

Since the Easter bombing, anti-Muslim sentiment has been running high, with rights groups blaming Buddhist nationalists for “hate speech” and “mob violence” against Muslims.

Groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Buddhist far-right group, has been accused behind attacks against Muslims since 2009 when the Sri Lankan forces defeated Tamil separatists, ending a civil war that lasted nearly 30 years.

The BBS has previously successfully run an anti-halal campaign and called for a ban on the burqa, a full-body veil worn by some Muslim women that covers the face as well.

Muslims, who comprise about 10 percent of the population, say they have faced discrimination and hate speech from hardline Buddhist groups, who wield influence in the current governing Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party led by the Rajapaksa brothers.

Earlier this year, the government decision to cremate Muslims who died of COVID-19, caused anguish in the community, as the traditional Islamic funeral was denied. Families said it was against WHO guidelines and done to harass Muslims, who were blamed for spreading the virus that has killed more than one million people globally.

SOURCE : AL JAZEERA

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/15/sri-lanka-muslim-lawyer

 

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