counter hit xanga
March 28, 2023

The new national security bill which replaces the PTA – Azgar Nuhman

Last Updated on February 28, 2023 by Desman Chathuranga

The Tamil who predicted the fate of Wasantha four decades ago: Kuttimani and Ranil Rajapaksa’s and Wijedasa who wears a new face after four decades..!

A press release issued was signed on the 9th of this month by a former news paper editor Sampath Deshapriya supposed to be issued by the minister of Justice, Prisons and Constitutional Reforms, Dr.Wijayadasa Rajapaksa instructing the officials to prepare the new National Security Bill proposed to be brought by the government instead of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for the approval of the Council of Ministers.

Sampath Deshapriya is a journalist who fought against Sri Lanka’s draconian law, the “Prevention of Terrorism Act” (PTA) , before accepting a ministerial post in a corrupt anti-people government whose mandate was revoked. Instead of working to replace this draconian law with another draconian law, he was also in support of the “Repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)” slogan.

Therefore, we used the above press release as a prelude to this writing in order to further advance the slogan of abolishing such repressive laws, not the new execution laws that continue the same suppression by using the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) or other names that are not at all suitable for a civilized society.

“The same PTA that is being used to suppress the Dravidian people will one day in the future quell the awakening of the Sinhalese people” The Tamil who predicted the fate of Wasantha’s destiny four decades ago: Selvaraja Yogachandran alias Kuttimani

“We are not racists. We are not enemies of the Sinhalese people. We do not take away the rights of the Sinhalese people. We remember the Sinhalese people with love in our fight. We show our support in their just fights. Similarly, the Sinhalese people should support our liberation fight. The person who is not interested in the freedom of others. He will also bury his freedom” said Selvaraja Yogachandran alias Kuttimani four decades ago, on February 24, 1983, in the Colombo High Court.

Life imprisonment for Tamil militants including Thangadurai, Kuttimani

On March 25, 1981, a van belonging to the People’s Bank coming from Vadamarachchi to Jaffna, was taken into custody at Nirveli on the Jaffna-Peduruthuduwa road on charges of conspiracy to commit robbery,committed the robbery and was prosecuted under the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ before the Colombo High Court. The first defendant was Nadaraja Thangavelu alias Thangadurai. The other accused were Selvaraja Yogachandran alias Kuttimani, Ganeshanathan Jeganathan alias Jegan, Subramaniam Devan, Nadaraja Sivapatham alias Sivapalan Master and Nadesudasan. This is the second case filed under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The trial began on November 2, 1982, and the verdict was announced on February 24, 1983. The High Court found the accused guilty and sentenced all to life imprisonment with hard labour. Sri Sabharatnam, who later became the leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), was also named as a defendant in this case, but he had fled to India by then.

Leftist Tamil Liberation Fighters

“We expect justice from the masses. One day the truth will prevail through the conclusion of the masses. The Sri Lankan government has branded us as robbers, murderers and terrorists. Tamils will not accept this falsehood. This false propaganda has become a weapon to mislead the Sinhalese people and impose dangerous immoral laws. The repressive program is a pretense of peace and security,” he added while announcing the life sentence against him and his group. Kuttimani and his group, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, were left biased Tamil liberation fighters.

Kuttamani was a Vadukkodei MP

During Kuttamani’s imprisonment, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) decided to nominate him as the Member of Parliament from the Vadukkodei constituency following the seat vacated by the death of Member of Parliament T. Thirunawukkarasu who represented Vadukkodei Constituency. But the then the UNP speaker Bakir Markar refused to bring him to the parliament to take oath as a member of parliament as he was serving a life sentence. Then in July 1983 Tamil prisoners including Kuttimani were killed in Welikada prison. Till date, no action has been taken against anyone regarding the murder, which took place with the cooperation of prison officials and security forces.

How the South became a victim of the “Tiger Act”.

Four decades ago, Kuttimani urged the Sinhalese community in the south to fight against the immoral Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Otherwise, he warned that the South may become a victim of thisillegal act. By 1987-88, his predictions were confirmed. Sinhalese youths in the south were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. At that time, there was some protest to this illegal act in the South, but in a very short time it was again called the “Tiger Act”.

Detention for a maximum period of eighteen months at the discretion ofthe Minister of Defence

The “Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act” was enacted in the year 1978 and was ratified in the year 1982. Suspects arrested under this act can be detained for a maximum period of eighteen months at the discretion of the Defense Minister. This act is a dangerous tool that serves the interests of the security chiefs and the political authorities. Any citizen can be arrested and detained through this Act on any of their fictions and it is very difficult to challenge the decision.

This draconian Act not subject to judicial supervision

The PTA is particularly dangerous because it gives the executive broad powers to arrest and detain citizens for long periods of time. Although the detention orders are consistent with the fundamental rights and writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Courts, this is a draconian repressive act as unlike cases of arrest and detention under the common law they are not subject to formal judicial supervision. Also, due to such long detentions, detainees are subjected to inhuman torture.

Tamil youths imprisoned without bail for 10-15 years

During the civil war in the North and East, thousands of Tamil youths were arrested and tortured under this Act by the security forces. The lives of many of those youths who were arrested through the suspicions and fictions of the security forces were completely ruined. There are hundreds of young Tamils who have been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and then imprisoned as suspects for ten or fifteen years without bail. Even today, those youths are not getting justice.

How Azad Sally, Hijaz Hezbollah, Ahnaf Jaseem were detained and avenged

After the war, this mysterious act used political power to suppress political opponents of the government. One example of this is the case of the former governor of the Western Province, Asad Sally, who was arrested in connection with the Easter attack. In connection with the Easter attack, lawyer Hijaz Hezbollah was arrested under this act and was released without charges after being detained for almost two years. A young poet, Ahnaf Jaseem, was detained for a year and a half under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, accused of propagating Muslim extremist ideas through a poem he had written. It is clear that all these arrests are political revenge carried out under fabricated charges.

In 2021, 109 citizens were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

Detaining citizens for long periods of time without judicial supervision, at the sole discretion of the executive, is contrary to universal human rights standards as well as the International Human Rights Charter. Even in the face of the opposition of local and foreign human rights organizations, democratic and moral countries including the European Union, the country’s political power has not stopped arresting and detaining citizens unjustly under this cruel law. According to the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission report, 109 citizens have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2021 alone.

The manner in which Wasantha and others were avenged.Wasantha Mudalige, the convener of the Inter-University Student Union, who led the people’s struggle to break the Rajapakse regime, was recently arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, detained for many months and subjected to inhuman torture. It is clearly a political revenge of the Ranil Rajapaksa government. The Ranil Rajapaksa government uses the Prevention of Terrorism Act to suppress dissent and intimidate citizens who participate in peaceful protests.

The historic judgment of Magistrate Prasanna Alwis

Recently Colombo Chief Magistrate Mr. Prasanna Alwis gave a historic decision to release Wasantha Mudalige who was remanded under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.The Magistrate pointed out that there is no basis for prosecuting Wasantha Mudalige under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and presented detailed facts in his judgment that false evidence have been presented against him by fictitious security authorities

(The verdict is shown at the end of this article)

Five statements by Motivation Appachchi and Gemunu Wijeratne…. “A review of the past shows instances of arbitrary use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. In some cases, we can observe cases where the police used the act with the intention of remanding people for a long period of time. Colombo Chief Magistrate Prasanna Alwis points out that the prosecution has mainly presented the evidence of the two persons Motivation Appachchi and Gemunu Wijeratne to the court against this suspect. It was emphasized that it appears that the statements of these witnesses are mere statements without any basis.

Conditions from the EU for GSP+ trade concessions

The European Union, the Western camp led by the United States continued to pressure Sri Lanka to repeal the Anti-Democratic Terrorism Prevention Act. Currently, the abolition of this dangerous act has become a basic condition for obtaining the GSP+ trade concession from the European Union. The government introduced several amendments to the Prevention of Terrorism Act with the aim of getting GSP+. The current Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa is preparing for a blindfold to change the name of this Act as “National Security Act”.

Accusations from the European Union that the government is violating the promises made to the international community

But the fact that the international community cannot be fooled by deception is confirmed by a statement made by the EU Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Dennis Chaibi, to the Daily Mirror newspaper on February 7th. Ambassador Denis Chaibi says that the Anti-Terrorism Act is problematic because there is no judicial review and it can be used for political intimidation. EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi revealed that many politicians told him that governments took political revenge against them by using this bill.

Ambassador Chaibi says that he is saddened that the previous government’s promise to the international community that it will not use the Prevention of Terrorism Act that has been violated. He says that the new ‘National Security Act’ that the government is preparing to present must comply with international standards of human rights,and points out that getting GSP+ concessions next March and fulfilling the promises made by the Sri Lankan government to the international community are related to each other.

Abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act!

All democratic forces must unite to abolish this repressive act through the strong criticism and opposition that has arisen domestically and internationally about the unjust detention of young activists including Wasantha Mudalige under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It is the responsibility of all opposition parties to create a common front for that. Especially under a future populist government, instead of re-legislating repressive laws like the Prevention of Terrorism Act in other guises, we insist that they should be abolished and a plan presented to the people on how to protect the human rights of the citizens. Release all political prisoners like all the suspects who have been arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and have been imprisoned for many years! It is our request.

Azgar Nuhman – Freelance journalist and Sufi author