The Jaffna Mayor was arrested under Prevention of terrorism act (PTA), on Friday 9 April. His crime? – issuing an uniform for the Municipal workforce that apparently resembled that of the police force given by the LTTE. But in fact it resembles the uniform given to similar workers in the Colombo Municipal Council.
This arrest had been heavily criticised. International Watch Dog also expressed worry that the PTA is being used by State to oppress minority groups in Sri Lanka. Using the PTA the Sri Lankan state continues arresting people.
The Sri Lankan state is taking increasing repressive measures. Under the guise of the COVID pandemic any protest or gathering in Sri Lanka is suppressed. Recently the organisation Reporters without Border condemned the arrest and assault of journalist Malika Abeykoon when he was covering a health worker protest in Colombo. There is also continued attacks on journalists and freedom of speech.
According to the 13 amendment to the constitution, the Northern and Eastern Province can have their own Police force. Not only is this power completely restricted but any attempt to establish any form of security is viewed with suspicion by southern dictatorial regime. Even forming an environmental Municipal workforce had become an act of ‘Terrorism’! This is not reconciliation but repression.
UNP has suddenly woken up and cried out for ‘democracy’ – this of course is in their own interest. They did not take any action to abolish the PTA while they were in power.
Tamil solidarity condemns this action. The government should immediately drop all charges on the Mayor and others who were arrested with false charges. We demand that all political prisoners should be released immediately and the Prevention of Terrorism Act be abolished.