A protest was organised in front of the Colombo Fort railway station today (17) by writers, civil society activists, journalists and artists calling for the release of writer Shakthika Sathkumara who is in custody for his short story ‘Ardha’.
Shakthika was arrested under provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act on 1 April for allegedly inciting religious disharmony, following a complaint lodged by a group of Buddhist monks.
The group had reportedly been offended by the short story written by Sathkumara which was published on Facebook alluding to sexual abuse in rural Buddhist temples.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the protest Viranjana Herath convener of the Free Media Movement (FMM) said that there three ongoing court cases against Sathkumara in the Polgahawela Magistrate court, a human rights case in the Supreme courts and a case in Kurunegala High court demanding bail for him.
The ICCRP Act (of Sri Lanka), which was ratified in 2007, seeks to give effect to certain articles in the ICCPR (as adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966 and acceded to by Sri Lanka in 1980). Sathkumara was arrested for violating the Subsection (1) of Section 3 of the Act which states: “No person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”
“It has been 78 days since my husband was taken into custody and now I’m helpless as a mother of two and especially my son who is 4 years old is mentally affected through this incident,” said Sathkumara’s wife Yanusha Lakmali at the protest.
She also said that being a government employee she cannot go to work anymore as her working colleagues look down on her.
“As a mother, a wife, an artist and a writer all I ask is to grant bail to my husband without keeping him in remand anymore,” she added