The arrest of former Deputy mayor of Colombo and Muslim Tamil National Alliance leader Azath Salley by the CID on May 2nd 2013, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a piece of legislation whose provisions to detain suspects without trial for 180 days, has no place in a country that is no longer fighting terrorism. Mr. Salley’s arrest is purported to be the incitement of communal hatred, for a newspaper interview in which he warned of the dire consequences of fanning the flames of ethnic and religious hatred.
The PTA provisions permitting law enforcement to take into custody those who threaten strife between communities were never used to arrest the thugs who attacked a Muslim owned enterprise in Pepiliyana in March. Mr. Salley’s arrest, ironically called for repeatedly by hate groups, makes it clear that the Government deals its justice by two yardsticks, one for the majority community, which can spout invective against other religions and ethnic groups freely and another for minorities who dare to issue warnings about the dangerous turn Sri Lanka is taking.
If it is the regime’s answer to arrest Mr. Salley for warning against the dangers of this hate campaign, then perhaps each who denounces the extremist campaigns of hate against Sri Lanka’s Muslim community must all be arrested for believing in a pluralistic society in which every Sri Lankan, irrespective of race, religion or caste, must be treated as equal citizens. The Government has shown its true face towards the minorities and its commitment to ending hate and strife in this country.