SJB to continue fight for Ranjan’s freedom
10 months ago
By Buddhika Samaraweera Claiming that former Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP and currently imprisoned SJB Member Ranjan Ramanayake had never betrayed his self-respect and the mandate given to him by the people despite his imprisonment, SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that the party would continue to fight for Ramanayake’s release. After visiting Ramanayake, who is currently being held at the Welikada Prison, yesterday (22), the Opposition Leader said: “Ramanayake has never been involved in ‘deal politics’. Although he was imprisoned, he was a great humanitarian who never betrayed his self-respect and the mandate given to him by the people. I remember him once saying ‘they are all friends’. Yes, they are all friends, but Ramanayake is still in jail because he is not their friend. That is the truth.” Premadasa added that the imprisonment of Ramanayake – whom, he charged, was not a murderer, rapist, child molester, or bank robber – was a serious injustice. He further said that he was a man who boldly and accurately expressed his views. “Several times we have demanded his release – a full freedom – but it has not happened yet. Therefore, we will continue to work to get him released. We demand his release in the name of humanity. In particular, everyone should understand that he is not a person who engages in ‘deal politics’. Therefore, the pardon given to him should be unconditional,” he further said. The Supreme Court, on 12 January 2021, sentenced Ramanayake to four-year rigorous imprisonment over contempt of court. The case was filed by Ven. Magalkande Sudantha Thera and Air Force Officer (Retd.) R. Sunil Perera in 2017 following remarks made by Ramanayake allegedly insulting the reputation of the Judiciary, when commenting to the media on 21 August 2017. The case was heard before a three-judge bench composed of Justices Sisira De Abrew, Vijith Malalgoda, and Preethi Padman Surasena. Since then, several quarters, including politicians from both the Government and Opposition, have been requesting the President that Ramanayake be pardoned. In July 2021, several local actors and artists, including Dilhani Ekanayake, Anusha Damayanthi, and Arjun Kamalanath, made a joint request from President Rajapaksa to grant a presidential pardon to their fellow actor Ramanayake. Among the said artistes, Damayanthi and Kamalanath were among those who supported Rajapaksa in his presidential campaign in late 2019. Furthermore, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Galle District MP Geetha Kumarasinghe has also made an appeal for a presidential pardon for Ramanayake. In addition, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has also requested the President to grant a presidential pardon to Ramanayake. In a recent letter to Rajapaksa, the former President said that it was unfortunate that Ramanayake has been condemned to four years of imprisonment due to contempt of court in a background where many other convicts of serious offences have been set free by the current Government.