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Sri Lanka: Muslim poet’s inclusion in terror list condemned

Tuesday 13 September 2022, by siawi3


Sri Lanka: Muslim poet’s inclusion in terror list condemned

Tuesday 23 August 2022,

by Buwanajee Coralage

Legal counsel for poet Ahnaf Jazeem who was included in the proscript list of individuals allegedly involved in terrorism and terrorism financing said that they condemn this undemocratic and arbitrary action of the authorities.

Speaking to The Morning, Attorney-at-Law Sanjaya Wilson Jayasekera representing Jazeem, said that they are still unaware of the reason behind his inclusion.

Jazeem was previously arrested in May 2020, under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) on the grounds that he allegedly promoted extremist ideologies through his Tamil language poetry anthology titled Navarasam (Nine Emotions).

“We are not aware of the reason as to why his name has been included in this list, which is completely wrong and undemocratic. He is currently unemployed after he was arrested on 16 May 2020, as he was in remand custody for about 18 months. He is now out on bail and the case is pending at the Puttalam High Court. This case is to be taken up on 26 August. Now, in the meantime, they have designated him as a terrorist to be included in that list. In fact, this is completely arbitrary,” said Jayasekera.

Speaking further, he stated that this poet has no connection to a terrorist organisation and is not funded by any such group with his rather empty bank accounts as proof. He stated that all accusations made against him are fallacious and have been fabricated, among which is video evidence forcibly acquired by the authorities from children in the school where he worked at.

“While a person is listed in this terror list, it provides the authorities with all rights to seize all assets that he has, but this poor boy has no such assets as his only previous employment was as a teacher at an international school in Puttalam. There is no evidence whatsoever other than what they have forcibly obtained from children in the school where he used to work at.”

After his release on bail, Jazeem has attended to the bail conditions routinely, said his attorney.

“While the case is pending, under what authority have they listed his name? There is no valid reason under which he could have been included in this list. After being released on bail, he has punctually attended to the bail conditions of reporting to the relevant Puttalam Police Office on every first and last Sunday of each month.”

Commenting further on the matter, Jayasekera said: “His name being included in this list is completely abhorrent and anti-democratic and therefore, the Government should immediately withdraw it in the same manner that they included him. The public should also come forward and demand that the Government should release these people. This is a racist campaign that they are carrying out. We will make an appeal to the competent authority under the relevant provisions, requesting to remove him from that list and also call on the people upholding democratic rights to demand the Government withdraw their action and all criminal proceedings against him. He is innocent”.

Buwanajee Coralage