Hundreds protested in Colombo slamming the Sri Lankan government for detaining an award-winning Sinhala writer for almost 80 days at the bidding of Buddhist extremists.



Writers, journalists, trade unionists, human rights activists and left wing political organisations called for the immediate release of Shakthika Sathkumara who was put behind bars for publishing a short story on facebook.

"I am a writer myself. I know if I stay silent, this gross injustice befall me or some other writer" said Yanusha Lakmali, an award winning writer and the wife of Shakthika Sathkumara.

"I have two little kids. As a working mother, everyday I struggle to console them. All what my husband did is to write a short story. That was his sole crime to languish in a prison for 78 days", she said.

'Insulting Buddhism'

Protesters expressed their anger against authorities abusing a UN inspired law designed to curb hate speech to crack down on free expression and the country's Muslim minority.

Arrested on 1 April, the writer had been charged under ICCPR Act for his short story, which revolves around a Buddhist monk who renounced the saffron robe. The Act was made into law in 2007 to give effect to certain provisions of the United Nations multilateral treaty, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Lower courts have no powers to bail out suspects detained under the act making it hard to obtain the writer’s release.

A group of monks had complained that the short story insults Buddhism, the religion given the foremost place by the constitution.

Police are to produce Shakthika in a magistrate court on Tuesday (18) while the writer has appealed to the Supreme Court for his release. 
(JDS)