03/25/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka, appeal to government: freedom of expression and movement for Ruki Fernando

by Melani Manel Perera
For over a year the Catholic activist cannot leave the country or speak with the media. In 2014 he was arrested "for terrorism" for defending another activist. A court released him but has imposed a restraining order.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Remove restrictions on freedom of expression and movement imposed over a year ago by the old government of Sri Lanka on Ruki Fernando, a Catholic writer and social activist.

This is what 102 human rights advocates and four organizations are asking the president Maithripala Sirisena. "Such limitations on an activist such as Ruki - they write in a statement - is without precedent in the history of the country."
March 16, 2014 Ruki Fernando and Fr. Praveen Maneshan, a Tamil priest, were arrested "for terrorism" for having intervened in defense of Jeyakumari Balendaran, a human rights activist arrested a few days before on false charges. The woman was released on March 10.

Thanks to a great mobilization triggered by the Catholic Church and various Christian associations, on March 19, 2014 the priest and activist were released. However, two days later, at the request of the anti-terrorism Department (TID), a court issued a restraining order on Ruki Fernando.

"More than four months ago - the statement – Ruki’s lawyers presented verbal and written requests to the Department of the Attorney General to demand the closure of the case and the cancellation of the order. There was a signal of willingness to remove the restrictions on freedom of movement, but Tid officials refuse to close the case. This clearly indicates the security forces’ anti-human rights and anti- press freedom mentality continues".

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