Azath Salley was arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and he has been now released due to the campaign for his release by national and international democratic forces.
The unlawful arrest and detention of Azath was thus defeated though he has been a vocal critic of the extremist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the anti–Muslim activities of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), and had been actively involved in efforts to initiate legal action against both groups.
He has also promoted the minorities to unite against the racist rhetoric and actions of such groups. In addition, Azath has been publicly critical of the indirect support given to these elements by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Yet these forces failed in their conspiracy to cage him.
Many organizations both local and foreign were deeply concerned with the treatment meted towards Asath which appeared to be a result of his position against racism and opposition to extremist groups.
Whilst these democratic organizations recognized the responsibility of the State to investigate hate speech and other actions aimed at inciting communal disharmony, they highlighted the lack of fair and due process on the part of the State in the unlawful arrest and detention of Salley.
They indicated further, sadly this incident was yet another reminder that the Government had resorted to strong-arm tactics to silence and harass critics, while turning a blind eye when actual incidents of violence occur.
Bankrupt Mahinda regime
Government claims that Azath gave an affidavit pleading mercy. This is a bankrupt attempt to cover up their defeat from the mass campaign to release him. Any document, attestation or statement obtained from a prisoner who was arrested and kept illegally under the terror of draconian laws, are illegal and of no worth.
Azath as a free man could explain his view to the public and he is not bound by so called affidavits taken under terror and duress. We wish that Azath will join the struggle soon at the point where he left.
Vickramabahu Karunarathne/ NSSP