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  • Anti-terrorism Bill will be changed
    The highly controversial Antiterrorism Bill is subject to amendments and changes in Parliament and as such no one should have any fear or feeling of threat from the proposed Bill, Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said. The government is aware of concerns raised by the global and local community on certain provisions contained in the draft of the Anti-terrorism Bill and the Government is ready to alleviate them by discussion, compromise and flexibility, he added. Addressing a news conference at the Information Department auditorium, Minister Rajapakshe said the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) passed in 1979 under President J.R. Jayewardene’s rule as a temporary measure to counter the emerging separatist insurgency. The PTA has been misused and exploited by successive Governments since then for their personal and political...
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  • WhatsApp adds option to use the same account on multiple phones
    WhatsApp users are no longer restricted to using their account on just a single phone. Today, the Meta-owned messaging service is announcing that its multi-device feature — which previously allowed you to access and send messages from additional Android tablets, browsers, or computers alongside your primary phone — is expanding to support additional smartphones. “One WhatsApp account, now across multiple phones” is how the service describes the feature, which it says is rolling out to everyone in the coming weeks.
    Setting up a secondary phone to use with your WhatsApp account happens after doing a fresh install of the app. Except, rather than entering your phone number during setup and logging in as usual, you instead tap a new “link to existing account” option. This will generate a QR...
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  • CBK commends Dr. Shafi’s noble gesture of donating past salary to buy essential medicine
    Falsely accused by racist elements for alleged illegal sterilisation, Kurunegala Teaching Hospital doctor says racism will not take country or organisation forward except make poor people suffer more; calls on all to make Sri Lanka racism-free   Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has commended Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen over his gesture of donating the past salaries amounting to Rs. 2.6 million during his suspension and imprisonment on false charges to buy essential medicines. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

    Dr. Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen



    Following...
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  • Dr. Shafi donates arrears of his salary to purchase medicines for hospitals
    Dr. Shihabdeen Mohamed Shafi, the doctor at the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital has decided to donate arrears of his salary amounting over Rs. 2.67 million for the purchase of essential medicines for hospitals.

    Dr. Shafi who was on compulsory leave on charges of performing infertility surgery, has received a cheque of over Rs. 2.67 million salary arrears from the Health Ministry last week.

    The salary arrears include the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living, and allowance in lieu of pension for the period of compulsory leave imposed on Dr. Sihabdeen.

    Dr. Shafi who was employed at the Kurunegala teaching hospital was arrested on May 25th, 2019, on charges of performing infertility surgery.
    On July 25, 2019, the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court ordered that the doctor be released on bail.
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  • Govt. used Sinhala-Buddhist shield to its maximum benefit Ven. Galkande Dhammananda Thera
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  • Health ministry to pay back-wages for Dr. Shafi before July 10
    The Ministry of Health today gave an undertaking before the Court of Appeal that the salary and allowances payable to Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen will be paid before July 10 this year. The Ministry of Health gave this undertaking pursuant to a writ petition filed by Dr. Shafi  Shihabdeen, who was at the centre of the controversy surrounding the alleged sterilisation of female patients. The Director General of Establishment at the Ministry of Public Services had earlier informed the Court that the basic salary, interim allowance, cost of living and allowance in lieu of pension could be paid to Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen, for the compulsory leave period. Meanwhile, the petitioner expressed willingness to attend the preliminary inquiry before Director of Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Dr. Chandana Kendangamuwa. Taking into consideration the facts,...
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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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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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