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Calls for release of poet detained in Sri Lanka without charges

Several human rights groups have urged the Sri Lankan government to release Ahnaf Jazeem, a 26-year-old poet who was arrested for terrorism and is being kept in jail for over a year without any charges, reported Colombo page

May 17, 2021
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Sri Lanka (File)

Several human rights groups have urged the Sri Lankan government to release Ahnaf Jazeem, a 26-year-old poet who was arrested for terrorism and is being kept in jail for over a year without any charges, reported Colombo page. 

Jazeem was arrested last year under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Sri Lanka. In a joint letter to the government of Sri Lanka, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, and eleven other rights groups, asked authorities to immediately release him. 

The group also termed the PTA, the act under which he was arrested, flawed, adding it “facilitates human rights violations”, especially of Sri Lankan Muslims. 

Authorities arrested him, accusing him of writing poetry in Tamil language, which they say promotes “extremism”- a claim contested by the rights groups that wrote the letter. He is also being investigated for his alleged links to the Easter bombings in 2019 that killed 259 people, mostly Christians. 

In the detention, the right groups alleged, he was tortured and forced to sign false confessions in a language that he didn’t know. They said if the government has evidence of his crimes, he must be charged immediately. 

“In the absence of such evidence, they must immediately release him,” they added. 

(SAM)

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