By Dinitha Rathnayake
Several key activists of the “aragalaya” are in Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The UNHRC will hold its 51st regular session starting today (12) until 7 October at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Social activist Shehan Malaka, Attorney-at-Law Nuwan Bopage, and author Sunanda Deshapriya are among the “aragalaya” members who have reached Geneva, Switzerland to voice out against what they claim is Government repression and raise awareness about the arrest of Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) Convenor Wasantha Mudalige.
Speaking to The Morning, Bopage said they will deliver their speeches to the UNHRC today.
Meanwhile, a discussion was held with the parents of Wasantha Mudalige at the Sri Lanka Office of the International Human Rights Commission last Friday (9) regarding what it termed the Government’s crackdown on Mudalige and three other arrestees in an anti-democratic manner, violating their human rights, and holding them under detention orders.
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that the Sri Lanka Police had informed journalist Tharindu Jayawardhana in writing that all documents unrelated to existing court cases are destroyed every five years.
According to the Right to Information Act, every State institution must maintain documents for 12 years, but the “People of Aragalaya” group said that the lack of transparency within the Government and State institutes is a serious issue that leads to corruption.
“The Sri Lankan people deserve better. As citizens of Sri Lanka, we have a right not to be attacked with expired chemical weapons and we have a right to access information regarding such an attack. We deserve transparency and accountability from the Government and State institutes. Sri Lanka cannot continue to violate people’s rights and hope to control people using fear,” they said .
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his capacity as Minister of Defence, has granted approval to detain and interrogate Mudalige, activist Hashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake, and Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera for a period of 90 days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Approval was granted as per a request made by Sri Lanka Police.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor had said earlier that signing the detention order against the three activists, including IUSF Convenor Wasantha Mudalige, would mark a dark day for Sri Lanka.
On her official Twitter handle, Lawlor had raised deep concerns about the arrest of Mudalige, Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera, and Gunathilake under the PTA, and had urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to not sign the detention order against the three activists.