New Delhi, Aug 22 (EFE).- Amnesty International (AI) denounced Monday the arrest of three people protesting against the authorities’ management of the ongoing economic crisis in Sri Lanka under an anti-terrorist law.
“Using a draconian anti-terror law to crackdown on protesters is a new low for the Sri Lankan government,” AI’s South Asia Director Yamini Mishra said in a statement.
Wasantha Mudalige of the Federation of Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF), as well as student leaders Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Hashantha Jawantha Gunathilake, were arrested last week following a protest.
AI claimed that all three are being held under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
“Charges of terrorism do not commensurate with any offenses the protesters are alleged to have committed,” Mishra said, underlining that this law allows for the detention of suspects for up to a year without charges “in violation of international law.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, tweeted she was “deeply concerned” about the detention of the activists, and called on the current Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe not to sign the detention warrant and thus avoid “a dark day” for Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly, also turned to Twitter to recall that the Sri Lankan government recently assured foreign diplomats that it no longer uses this “draconian” law.
Faced with its worst economic crisis in history, Sri Lanka has for months faced an acute shortage of essential supplies such as fuel, cooking gas, milk, some food, and medicines.
This situation led to protests across the country that gained momentum when tens of thousands of people gathered together in a park in Colombo, near the presidential palace, under the slogan “Gota Go Home” demanding the resignation of then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The mostly peaceful protests turned violent on July 9 when thousands of demonstrators overran presidential security and raided the official residence, forcing Rajapaksa to flee.
The private residence of Wickremesinghe, who was serving as prime minister at the time, was also stormed and set on fire by protesters.
In the following weeks, with Wickremesinghe’s rise to power, the security forces began to arrest protesters and evict them from protest sites. EFE