Sri Lanka Young Journalists’ Association requests the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to take immediate actions against the unjust arrest and detention of Ahnaf Jazeem who penned ‘Navarasam’, which is a poem voicing against war and extremism.
The association states in their letter to the HRCSL that Ahnaf was arrested by the CID on 16th May of 2020 after finding 19 copies of his poem ‘Navarasam’ in a building belonging to ‘Save the Pearl’ organization of Hijaaz Hisbullah, who is currently detained by the Criminal Investigation Department in relation to the Easter Sunday bombing investigations.
The Young Journalists’ Association presses the fact that everybody has the freedom of speech and expression and arresting Ahnaf for doing a work of literature is a violation of his fundamental rights which are protected by the Constitution. They further state that the CID arrested him without examining the content of the book Navarasam, which includes Tamil poetry about peace, anti-war themes and is against ISIS extremism.
“If there was a need to confirm whether the book contained extremist content, the CID could have translated it first and take legal actions if the content is illegal, but the CID has done the opposite by arresting him in the first place,” the association stated in its letter.
The Young Journalists’ Association also emphasizes the possibility for youngsters to become a victim of extremism by such unjustified actions.
“Arresting and detaining literary-minded, artistic young men who are fighting against war and extremism through literature could push them to turn themselves into extremists without any effort,” it warned.
The letter has been referred to the President and every Commissioner of the HRCSL as well, and the Young Journalists’ Association seeks immediate action from the commission regarding the matter.
The letter by the Sri Lanka Young Journalists’ Association to the HRCSL is shown below;