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Muslim leader arrested in Lanka

Last Updated: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 18:49

Colombo: A prominent Sri Lankan Muslim leader, who recently formed a new political front to promote ethnic and religious harmony, has been arrested by police after receiving "several complaints" against him.

Azad Sally was arrested at his residence in Kolonnawa following several complaints against him, Police Spokesman SP Buddhika Siriwardena was quoted by the Colombo Page as saying.

Sally, the leader of Sri Lanka`s newly-formed Muslim Tamil National Alliance and the former Deputy Mayor of the Colombo Municipal Council, has in the past criticised the Buddhist extremist organisation, Bodu Bala Sena.

Meanwhile, Sally`s arrest has been criticised by the leading human rights group Amnesty International, which called the action indicative of the climate of fear that prevails in the island nation for government critics.

"Azad Sally`s arrest, and the harassment he has faced over the past weeks, is indicative of the climate of fear government critics in Sri Lanka are forced to live under," Polly Truscott, Amnesty International`s Deputy Asia Pacific Director said today.

A few day back, Sally told journalists that he was in hiding after receiving threats from various quarters.

Sally has accused the government of sponsoring Buddhist nationalist groups in carrying out a series of anti-Muslim campaigns and officials claim he was arrested because of conduct that could damage ethnic harmony.

"He must be immediately released or charged with an internationally recognisable criminal offence," Amnesty International said here today.

"He has been campaigning to end oppressive practises against minorities in Sri Lanka, in particular Muslims and Tamils, for which he has faced the ire of the Sri Lankan government. Sally appears to be the latest victim in the intensifying crackdown on dissenting views we have seen in recent years, motivated by the government’s desire to tighten its grip on power," said Truscott.

"Journalists, the judiciary, human rights workers and opposition politicians like Sally are among those who have been targeted through threats, harassment and vicious violent attacks," she added.


First Published: Friday, May 3, 2013 - 18:49

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