By: Isuru Parakrama
Colombo (LNW): Dr. Tushara Wickramanayke, general physician and human rights defender, appealed to the Amnesty International seeking support for the release of stand-up comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya, who was arrested on the charge of making comments allegedly insulting Buddhism, and Bruno Divakara, owner of the ‘SL-Vlog’ YouTube Channel, who was subsequently arrested in connection with her arrest.
In a letter to the Amnesty International South Asia, Dr. Wickramanayke emphasised that the two were arrested under fraudulent charges of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) without bail and alerted international forums on the perpetual attempts of the regime to dismiss civil and political rights of citizens of Sri Lanka, contrary to its national and international obligations.
Wickramanayake reminded that the concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Sri Lanka by the Committee on ICCPR, 26 April 2023, section 41 (c) states, “refrain from prosecuting and imprisoning, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act, journalists, media workers, journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society actors as means of deterring or freely discouraging them from freely expressing their opinions.”
“The attempts of the regime appear to be to suppress any political and social movements who they consider a threat to maintain power in an extremely fragile economic crisis. The intentions of the regime are transparently clear in resurgence of pretext of national security agenda by creating religious and ethnic discord. The most effective way to instill fear is to silence the independent media and outspoken individuals,” she wrote.