Reflecting on the PTA and Amirthalingam

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JR Jayawerdene (JRJ) threatened the TULF with dissolving parliament if it opposed the PTA

UN Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other Human Rights organizations emphasised that Sri Lanka must withdraw the PTA, Prevention of Terrorism Act; after the end of the Civil war in Sri Lanka. The European Union Parliament in a resolution adopted has called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism act from the statute book on 10 June 2021. The European Parliament adopted the resolution recently on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka by 628 votes in favour of the 705-member legislative assembly while 15 voted against, 40 abstained.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has told the European Union delegation that urgent steps would be taken to make amendments regarding the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The delegation during a meeting at the private residence of President Rajapaksa in Mirihana had drawn special attention to the PTA and said that they were going to submit their report to the European Parliament.

The President’s office announced that President Rajapaksa had said that necessary committees have been appointed regarding the PTA and that required instructions have been given to the Justice Minister and the Attorney General.

The PTA introduced in 1979 was intended to be a temporary measure, in addition to the emergency law. However, in 1982, PTA became permanent law in the country. 

When the PTA was introduced the Left Movement’s and MIRJE took to the streets to fight against the PTA; Rev Paul Casperz lead the demonstrations.

The then opposition Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) did not protest when the PTA was put to a vote in parliament. Maithripala Senanayake, a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, was the only member of parliament to protest. But the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which won 18 seats from the North East and went to parliament with the united support of the Tamil people and walked into the opposition seat, walked out of parliament without protesting against the PTA. 

JR Jayawerdene (JRJ) threatened the TULF with dissolving parliament if it opposed the PTA: Appapillai Amirthalingam feared losing his historical Opposition Leader’s post. The PTA was put to a vote in parliament and TULF did not oppose it, knowing that the bill was intended to suppress the Tamil armed struggle. 

JRJ brought the PTA and sent Brigadier Lalith Weeratunga to Jaffna with special powers, claiming that he would eradicate terrorism within three months.

When the PTA was put to a vote in parliament the then opposition TULF did not object. As an opposition leader and the leader of Tamils it’s the duty to Amirthalingam and TULF to oppose the PTA readings. Veerasingam Ananthasangari and Rajavarodayam Sampanthan were then members of Parliament. They are still alive.

Current Leader of the TULF Veerasinghe Ananthasangari replied the question raised by a journalist who asked why didn’t you oppose the PTA? He replied that it was the duty of the party members to abide by the party’s decision.

TULF mentioned in their manifesto at the 1977 General Election to give a mandate to Eelam; the Northeast people also offered their complete support to the TULF at the 1977 Parliamentary Elections; Appapillai Amirthlingam became the Opposition Leader, first time in the Sri Lankan history. But Appapillai Amirthalingam, the then Leader of Tamils treacheries the Tamils, offered hidden support to the PTA. 

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Disclaimer: Reflecting on the PTA and Amirthalingam - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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