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Arrested poet Ahnaf Jazeem mistreated by TID: Lawyers

By Pamodi Waravita

 

In a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) last week, Sanjay Wilson Jayasekera, the legal representation of arrested poet Ahnaf Jazeem, stated that there is continuing ill-treatment of Jazeem by officers of the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), which is discriminatory.

“My client has been underfed and regularly improperly fed by TID officers, where he is not even provided with his morning cup of tea or evening snacks, while other detainees are provided with the same. This treatment is targeted and meted out only to my client, in a discriminatory manner. My client’s family reasonably suspects that this ill-treatment is intended to further intimidate, mentally harass, weaken, and force my client to give self-incriminating statements to the TID,” the letter stated.

Earlier this month, 13 organisations, both international and within Sri Lanka, issued a joint statement calling for the immediate release of poet Jazeem who was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) on 16 May 2020.

PEN International, Amnesty International, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, The International Working Group on Sri Lanka, International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka, Centre for Justice and Accountability, Australian Centre for International Justice, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, People for Equality and Relief in Sri Lanka, and Freemuse have called for the immediate release of Jazeem, noting that he has been detained for a year without any charges.

Jazeem was arrested in connection to his Tamil-language poetry anthology “Navarasam”, which the authorities have alleged as promoting “extremist” ideology. However, renowned Tamil language Prof. Macbool Ali Mohammed Nuhman has been quoted as stating that “there are several poems against extremism, violence, and war in this collection”.