Sri Lankan student leaders Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Wasantha Mudalige, have been detained by the Sri Lankan authorities since 18 August 2022. On 21 August, authorities issued a Detention Order under the draconian anti-terror law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to detain them for 90 days, amidst an ongoing crackdown on protesters by the authorities. Their families are concerned about their safety and worsening health as they continue to be detained without charge or trial under suspicion of acts of “terror” for over 75 days. All anti-terror charges must be dropped against Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Wasantha Mudalige and stop the detention order from being extended.
- Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on January 3, 2023.
- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
- Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 96.22. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
Director of Terrorism Investigation Division
Mr. A.R.P.J. Alwis
No. 149, Bootani Capital Building,
Polhengoda, Colombo 05
Fax: +94 11 2384403
Email: [email protected]
Dear Mr. A.R.P.J. Alwis,
I am deeply concerned about the situation of student leaders Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Wasantha Mudalige,
who have been detained since 18 August 2022 and had their detention extended for 90 days on 21 August 2022 under the draconian anti-terror law Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
I find it alarming that they have been held under squalid conditions and denied due process and fair trial rights. Their families fear for their safety and health while in detention. Siridhamma Thero has contracted dengue fever while in custody and was later hospitalised with high fever. Detaining protesters using terror charges is a clear violation of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Sri Lanka is a state party.
Using a draconian law—which the government itself has committed to reform—to crackdown on protesters is against Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations, especially relating to the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. This points to the environment of systematic crackdown and stifling of dissenting voices against the background of the current economic hardship in the country.
As people in Sri Lanka face the brunt of the ongoing economic crisis, they have the right to express their opinions and call for accountability including through peaceful protests.
I, therefore, urge you to immediately drop all terror related charges against Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Wasantha Mudalige. In the meantime, I urge you to ensure their access to prompt and regular medical care as necessary.
I also call on the Sri Lankan authorities to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which does not meet international human rights standards, and to uphold the commitment to end its use. The authorities should immediately review the detention of others held under the PTA, ensuring adequate access to fair bail hearings, and immediate release for all those not facing internationally recognizable charges.