SRI LANKA: Sorge um Shakthika Sathkumara

8. Januar 2020 – Update #2 zu RAN 09/12

Shakthika Sathkumara
© Privat

PEN International ist zutiefst besorgt über das laufende Gerichtsverfahren gegen den preisgekrönten Schriftsteller und Dichter Shakthika Sathkumara. Sollte der Generalstaatsanwalt beschließen, Anklage zu erheben, drohen Sathkumara bei einem Schuldspruch bis zu zehn Jahren Gefängnis. Seine letzte Anhörung fand am 10. Dezember 2019 statt. Die nächste ist für den 19. Mai 2020 angesetzt. Sathkumara war am 1. April 2019 wegen seiner Kurzgeschichte „Ardha“ („Hälfte“), die er auf seinem Facebookprofil geteilt und in der er angeblich zu religiösem Hass aufgestachelt hatte, verhaftet worden. Der PEN lehnt die Aufstachelung zu Gewalt oder Hass ab, die Kurzgeschichte Shakthika Sathkumaras stellt jedoch keinen derartigen Tatbestand dar. PEN International kommt daher zu dem Schluss, dass Sathkumara ausschließlich für die Wahrnehmung seines Rechtes auf freie Meinungsäußerung angegriffen wird, und fordert den Generalstaatsanwalt von Sri Lanka auf, das Verfahren gegen ihn einzustellen.

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Richten Sie Ihre Proteste an:

President
Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Presidential Secretariat
Galle Face,
Colombo 1,
Sri Lanka
Fax :- +94 112 34 0340
Email: ps [at] presidentsoffice [dot] lk

Prime Minister
Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa
Prime Minister’s Office
No: 58, Sir Ernest De Silva Mawatha,
Colombo 07
Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 112 575310 / +94 112 574143
Email: info [at] pmoffice.gov [dot] lk

Attorney General
Mr. Dappula de Livera
Fax: +94 112 436421
Email: administration [at] attorneygeneral.gov [dot] lk

Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
Dr. Deepika Udagama – Chairperson
Fax: +94 112 505591
Email: chair.sechrcsl [at] gmail [dot] com

Senden Sie außerdem Kopien an den singhalesischen Botschafter in Berlin:

Botschaft der Demokratischen Sozialistischen Republik Sri Lanka
S.E: Herrn Karunasena Hettiarachchi
Niklasstraße 19
14163 Berlin
Fax: +49 30 809097-49
E-Mail: slemb.berlin [at] mfa.gov [dot] lk

Weitere Informationen, wie Sie Shakthika Sathkumara unterstützen und was Sie den Behörden schreiben können, lassen sich der Internetseite des internationalen PEN entnehmen unter www.pen-international.org/news/sri-lanka-renewed-calls-to-drop-investigation-into-award-winning-writer-shakthika-sathkumara.

Hintergrund (bereitgestellt vom internationalen PEN)

Writer Shakthika Sathkumara, aged 33, is the author of seven short story collections, four poetry anthologies, a novel and at least 17 non-fiction books on literary theory, theatre and Buddhism, in addition to being a regular contributor to several literary supplements of various Sinhala-language newspapers. He has earned recognition at both provincial and national levels for his short stories and poetry anthologies.

On 1 April 2019, Sathkumara was arrested on suspicion that he had committed offences under Section 291B of the Penal Code and Article 3(1) of Sri Lanka’s ICCPR Act (2007), in connection with a short story that he had published on his Facebook page. The short story, ‘Ardha’ (‘Half’), due to be published as part of a collection later this year, has provoked hostility from Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka. The groups allege that the story is derogatory and defamatory to Buddhism owing to its indirect references to homosexuality within the Buddhist clergy and also due to a different rendering, told by the characters of the short story, of the legendary story of “Siddhartha” in Buddhist literature. Sathkumara maintains that he did not intend to insult Buddhism nor wound the feelings of any religious community in writing his short story, which is written in a post-modernist style.

Article 291 B of the Sri Lankan Penal Code states that ‘[w]hoever with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of persons, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both,’ while Article 3(1) Sri Lanka’s ICCPR Act (2007) states that ‘no person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence’ and makes any such crime a non-bailable offence which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

While freedom of expression may be limited for reasons of respect of the rights or reputations of others or for the protection of national security or of public order or of public health or morals, PEN holds that these limitations cannot legitimately be imposed on the expression of ideas about religion. While PEN stands against the incitement of violence or hatreds, having reviewed the content of Sathkumara’s story, PEN does not believe that the story constitutes incitement to violence.

At a hearing held on 25 June 2019, the police informed the court that their investigation had been concluded and the case referred to the Attorney General to render a decision as to whether to file charges against Sathkumara.  At its subsequent hearing on 9 July 2019, police appearing before the Polgahawela Magistrate Court informed the court that they had not yet been informed of the Attorney General’s decision. Sathkumara was granted bail on 5 August 2019 by the Kurunegala High Court and was released from prison on 8 August 2019, after bail was duly furnished at Polgahawela Magistrate Court. Sathkumara is required to report to Polgahawela police on the second and fourth Sunday of every month.

On 2 December 2019, after eight months of being placed on administrative leave, Sathkumara was reappointed to his position as a development officer at the Maspotha Divisional Secretariat on the condition that he may face a disciplinary inquiry in connection to his writing of ‘Ardha’. Such a warning comes despite the fact that regulations prohibit the administrative authorities from carrying out a disciplinary inquiry into a non-work related matter, according to his legal team. He is yet to be reimbursed for his loss of earnings incurred during his compulsory leave.

According to Sathkumara’s legal team, at a hearing held at the Polgahawela Magistrate Court on 10 December 2019, the police informed the court that they had not yet received instructions from the Attorney General as to whether formal charges will be filed. The case was adjourned until 19 May 2020.

In a disappointing turn, the hearing of arguments of Sathkumara’s fundamental rights case – which was filed before the Supreme Court by his lawyers on 29 April 2019 in order to challenge the constitutional validity of  his arrest, claiming a breach of his right to freedom of expression and freedom from arbitrary arrest – was postponed until 28 July 2020.

Shakthika Sathkumara’s award-winning publications include the short story collections Fourth Generation (2006), Black Dragon (2010), Cactus Thorns (2012), Prosecutor’s Conscience (2015), Sand (2016), and poetry collections including Shot in the Heart (2009), Darkness (2011), and Skyless Moon (2012). Most recently, he has published I Drop a Feather (2016), Radiant Woman (2017), co-authored with Asiri Munasinghe, and Nests (2018).

 

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