A Sri Lankan author and poet has been arrested for allegedly insulting Buddhism in a short story recently published on Facebook.
Writer Shakthika Sathkumara was taken into custody and produced in the Polgahawela Magistrate Court yesterday (1 April) where he was subsequently remanded till 9 April.
The short story in question, titled Ardha (meaning half, or fraction), reportedly alludes to child abuse allegedly prevalent in rural Buddhist temples. This drew the ire of a group named the Youth Front to Protect Buddhism who had, along with some Buddhist monks from the Polgahawela area, had lodged a complaint with the police against Sathkumara.
The writer has been arrested under provisions in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Sri Lanka is signatory to. RepublicNext learns that efforts are currently underway to change the charge sheet agaisnt Sathkumara to reflect Sri Lankan law.
Attorney-at-Law P. W. W. Ratnayake who is appearing on behalf of Sathkumara told RepublicNext that only the High Court can grant bail to a defendant arrested under provisions in the ICCPR. The legal team representing the writer are currently working towards that end, he said.
Section 3 (1) of the (ICCPR) Act, No. 56 of 2007, states: “No person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.”
Section 3 (4) goes on to say: “An offence under this section shall be cognizable and non-bailable, and no person suspected or accused of such an offence shall be enlarged on bail, except by the High Court in exceptional circumstances.”
The short story can be found at this link.