PUBLICATIONSRepression of Dissent

Repression of Dissent: October 2020

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1. Executive Summary

This report provides some general trends and details of some significant incidents related to the repression of dissent in Sri Lanka in the month of October, based on 21 incidents mainly reported in mainstream and social media.

Context: Rapid increase of covid19 cases in Sri Lanka was reported in October, reporting more than 200% increase. Restrictions were imposed on public gatherings, and curfew was imposed in selected areas time to time. Towards the end of the month, entire Western Province was under lock-down. Militarization of COVID19 response was strongly evident throughout the month. Military was employed in carrying out temperature checks on Colombo streets, transporting people for quarantine and also running quarantine facilities. A group of female garment employees accused the military of degrading inhuman treatment during quarantine process. A Nurses trade union also alleged that their family members have been forcefully taken away by military for quarantining without ensuring adequate standards required for health and safety. An incident of a military officer threatening a medical doctor with racist comments was also reported. At least 3 custodial deaths were reported. The death of alleged underworld gang leader Madush became a major controversy since earlier statements by Police said that investigations revealed Madush’s alleged connections with some politicians. During parliamentary debates, opposition accused that he was murdered in an attempt to cover the politicians involved in alleged crimes. Several courts were temporarily closed due to COVID19 risks. A group of MPs signed and submitted a petition to the President requesting pardon for a murder convict.  Ministry of Justice published a gazette inviting public proposals for drafting the new constitution.

Updates of previous cases: Hearings of the court case of disappeared journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda at the special three-bench Trial at Bar in Colombo scheduled for October 26 and 27 were postponed because the area where the Court is located was subjected to COVID-19 related curfew. On October 28, detained lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah’s hearings were postponed due to restrictions on court functioning during COVID-19 curfew. The next hearing was scheduled for February 24, 2021. Blogger Ramzy Razeek published his reflections about imprisonment because of facebook comment after about a month of being released on bail. Razeek concluded his commentary by saying that he is subjecting himself to self-censorship as the case against him is still being heard in courts.  Hearing of the case against MP Ranjan Ramanayake on contempt of court was fixed for 6th of November, where further clarifications will be made.  Both prosecution and respondent parties have already concluded testifying evidence in connection with this case.

Statistical trends:  There were only 21 incidents reported in this month. Types of violations included 33% of physical attacks, 19% related to problematic verbal statements and media reports, 14% of incidents relating to censorship and restrictions on mainstream media.  As usually, the highest percentage of incidents from a single district: 29% were reported from Colombo. 10% were reported from North and East, while another 29% were reported from other areas. 33% of victims were journalists. In 24% of victims were state officials. 14% of victims were civil society activists and NGOs. In 19% of incidents, alleged perpetrator or responsible party was Government institutions or state officials. In another 14% of incidents, they were military or Police. In another10% alleged responsible party was the President or the central government. In another 24% of cases, other politicians were allegedly responsible.

Summary of the incidents

Repression of Free expression: A journalist working in a private TV channel was assaulted by sand miners while covering an alleged illegal sand mining operation in Moneragala district. Another journalist in Trincomalee district was assaulted while reporting an accident. His camera was also lost in the attack. Two correspondents of Tamil Guardian website were verbally threatened and physically assaulted while investigating an alleged timber trafficking operation in a forest reserve in Mullaitivu district. The attackers have also wiped the footage that were in memory chips of cameras. A journalist in Ratnapura district has been allegedly subjected attempted assault and death threats by the staff of a hydroelectric power station in Hapugoda area in Kalawana, when he was doing an investigative reporting on the environmental damage and the difficulties to villagers caused by the power station.  A journalist in Puttalam district has been forcefully removed from Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha meeting premises by the chairman of Pradeshiya Sabha, when a controversial decision made by the chairman was being discussed at the premises.  Journalists who went to cover proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter bombings were reported to have been chased away from the premises by an official when journalists were waiting outside the premises where the hearings were being held. Previously the journalists have been provided with waiting facilities during the closed door hearings, though such facilities were not available this time.  According to media reports, the decision to bar journalists from the November 3 parliamentary hearings was made at a party leaders’ meeting, after a journalist who had covered parliamentary hearings found tested positive for COVID19.  The Commander of the Army, who also heads the COVID-19 prevention center, made threatening statements after facing criticism in the media and complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) for the Army’s alleged mistreatment of apparel workers suspected of having COVID-19. The Commander termed the allegations “unfounded and fabricated” and stated that “all those intentional fabrications bear the hallmarks of a precursor to a bigger future machination the interested elements are now mapping out in order to tarnish or ridicule the role of the troops”. Police are reported to have arrested a woman on or around October 18 for uploading a video on Facebook with content that is alleged to have hateful content against the Catholic Archbishop of Colombo. While an official from the church issued a statement saying that the video released on social media had false, unfounded, insulting and misleading content, a lawyer who had examined the video had said the police should not be involved in the matter and if the content is interpreted as defamatory, the targeted individual may have a remedy in civil courts.

Repression of state officials: Former President giving before a Presidential Commission of Inquiry alleged that appointing a family member of a deceased Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadre to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) caused numerous issues during his presidency. He has also said that due to the complaints lodged by the HRCSL, Sri Lankan military and Police officers had lost the opportunity to join the UN Peacekeeping Forces, which was a major source of earning foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Few days later, a newspaper report indicated that alleged official in the HRCSL has submitted 300 false reports to Human Rights office in Geneva. The former Chairperson of HRCSL responding strongly refuted former President Sirisena’s claims and also said she had never heard of that particular allegation before. The whole saga seemed as an attempt to cause harassment and vilification towards the independent institution and its former leadership, which had been critical of the former and present government.  Similarly a suspect arrested in connection with abduction of journalist Ekneligoda stated that undue influences were made by former investigator and head of CID Shani Abeysekera and other officials of CID made undue influences, while another military officer claimed that because of investigations (into killings and abductions of journalists and other human rights violations) state intelligence was weakened. Jayaruwan Bandara who served as the Acting Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) was removed from his post in early October, with the Health minister explaining that his removal was done according to due procedures. However Bandara giving an interview to a web journalist, stated that he considering to retire from state service due to increased undue influences he has been facing. He also said that he has been banned from participating at press briefings and conferences despite his then position as the spokesperson at the ministry. In Galle district, Waduramba Police arrested a person who has allegedly assaulted a Police officer and a witness during an investigation. The (acting) secretary of the Rambewa Pradeshiya Sabha in Anuradhapura district complained to Police that she has been allegedly assaulted by the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha for her refusal to issue some machines belonging to Pradeshiya Sabha disregarding the proper procedure

Other incidents: In early October, when a group of youth went to Police to report an incident of police assault on them, the Police had allegedly refused to accept the complaint, assaulted them again, and arrested them. According to what Police have told the parents, the youth have allegedly assaulted the Police.  Sinhala language Divaina newspaper published an article titled ‘national security and NGOs intervening politics.’ It claimed that NGO heads making a serious threat by intervening into internal affairs. It also accused that ‘NGOs in Colombo provide information to ambassadors from USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Norway’, and called for strict regulation of NGOs to prevent this treacherous act. Further it called to bring a ban on NGOs from intervening with national security and internal affairs of the country.  In early October, a discussion was scheduled to be held in a church in Colombo district about 20th Amendment. The Police had visited the church several times and had called the organizers to discourage the meeting citing Covid19, despite of no publicly announced COVID19 restrictions to organize such events at the time. President issued the gazette calling for armed forces same as in the previous months. The 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill was passed in Parliament.  As pointed out by media unions, trade unions and various civil society groups, this amendment would have a strong negative impact on freedom of dissent, and other aspects concerning democracy. Several leading politicians linked to the main opposition political party SJB have stated that they are going to expel the MPs who voted in favour of 20A constitutional amendment.  A monk residing in Badulla district has been allegedly assaulted after opposing a person who was making an unplanned drainage that could drain wastewater into several lands of the neighbours around the temple.

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5. Statistical analysis

There were only 21 incidents reported in this month, reporting a lower number of incidents in a month, second lowest so far in this year. We believe this was not an actual decline in the number of violations, rather this was result of media dynamics and covid-19 situation. Below is a breakdown of incidents, reported each month.  

MonthNumber of incidents reported
October21
September38
August18
July34
June38
May31
April30
March31
February29
January31
Total301
Average per month30.1
Table 5.1: Breakdown of incidents reported each month

When types of violations were looked at 33% were physical attacks. There were another 19% of incidents relating to problematic verbal statements and media reports that could have potential negative impact on freedom of dissent. 14% of incidents were related to censorship and restrictions on mainstream media. Another 10% were related to legal, institutional and policy actions that could negatively impact on freedom of dissent. Other incidents included an arrest, an incident of a visit, inspection and questioning by Police, pressures faced by a state official, a monk who was assaulted by neighbor, and a statement of a political party for expelling their members for voting against the party’s position. 

Type of violationNumberPercentage
Physical attacks733%
Censorship / restrictions on media314%
Problematic verbal statements and media reports419%
Attempted physical attack and verbal threats15%
Arrest15%
Visits, inspection and questioning15%
Legal, institutional and policy actions210%
Others210%
Total21100%
Table 5.2: type of violation

Same as the previous months, the highest percentage of incidents from a single district: 29% were reported from Colombo. No other incidents were reported from other districts of Western Province. 2 incidents (10%) were reported from North and East, while another 29% were reported from other areas. 33% of incidents could not be limited to a specific geographical area.

LocationNumberPercentage
Colombo629%
North and East210%
Other areas629%
Not Applicable733%
Total21100%
Table 5.3: Geographical location of the incidents according to the district

33% of victims were journalists. In 24% of victims were state officials. 14% of victims were civil society activists and NGOs. In 10% of victims were other persons, while in another 10% of incidents the category of victims was considered not applicable, since they were actions applying to larger groups.

Type of victimsNumberPercentage
Journalist733%
Civil Society Activist and NGOs314%
state officials524%
Other210%
Not applicable210%
Total21100%
Table 5.4: Type of the victim

When ethnicity of the victims were considered in 8 incidents victims were Sinhala, in 2 incidents victims were Tamil and Muslim respectively. Ethnicity was not applicable or not mentioned in 10 incidents.

Ethnicity of the victimNumber
Sinhala8
Tamil1
Muslim1
Other1
Table 5.5: Ethnicity of the victim

In 10 the incidents, victims were male, while in 3 of the incidents victims were female. In 8 incidents gender was not applicable.

Gender of the victimNumber
Male10
Female3
Not Applicable8
Total21
Table 5.6: gender of the victim

In 19% of incidents, alleged perpetrator or responsible party was Government institutions or state officials. In 14% of incidents, they were military or Police. In 10% (two incidents) alleged responsible party was the President or the central government. In 24% of cases, other politicians were allegedly responsible. In 14% of other cases, persons involved in problematic businesses that cause environmental damage including illegal sand mining, and logging were allegedly responsible. In 1 incident (5%), a newspaper published a problematic content. In another 14% of incidents, alleged perpetrators’ profession was not clearly identifiable.

Perpetrator/ Responsible partyNumberPercentage
Government Institutions and officers419%
Military or Police314%
President or central government210%
Other Politicians524%
Business persons314%
Newspapers15%
Others314%
Total21100%
Table 5.7: Alleged perpetrator/ responsible party

 

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6. List of incidents

 DateDistrictRepression of Free expressionSource
013rd OctoberMoneragalaDerana TV journalist Indunil Wijenayake was assaulted by sand miners while covering an alleged illegal sand mining operation near Kumbukkan oya in Moneragala district. He was admitted to the Moneragala District Hospital. His camera was damaged during the attack. Indunil mentioned that two persons had been arrested and later released on bail.   Sri Lanka: Another journalist assaulted; FMM calls for justice! Sri Lanka Brief. Published 6th October, 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.
028th OctoberPuttalamPrasad Poornimal- a journalist has been forcefully removed from Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Sabha meeting premises by the chairman of Pradeshiya Sabha, while several other members opposed. There has been a critical discussion at the meeting on a controversial decision taken by the chairman with regards to the payment of legal fees of a case against him that was filed by the Justice Minister. Apparently the chairman of PS has taken this action in an attempt to censor what is being discussed at the premises from being reported in the media.වෙන්නප්පුව ප්‍රාදේශීය සභා සභාපතිවරයා රැස්වීම වාර්තා කිරීමට නොදී මාධ්‍යවේදියා දොට්ට දමයි. Mawbima. Published 12th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   
0311th OctoberTrincomaleeM. H. Yusuf, a provincial correspondent for Independent Television Network (ITN) was assaulted while reporting on an accident in Trincomalee District. During the assault, he also lost his camera. A complaint was lodged with the Agbopura police (complaint no. CIB 132/71). Yusuf mentioned that three persons were arrested and presented before the courts for an identification parade but he was not able to identify them as he had been nervous at the time of the incident and there had been many people.முல்லைத்தீவு, கந்தளாயில் ஊடகவியலாளர்கள் தாக்குதல் – ஸ்ரீலங்கா முஸ்லிம் மீடியா போரம் கண்டனம். Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum. Published 13th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.     
0412th OctoberMullaitivuTwo Tamil Guardian correspondents,  Kanapathipallai Kumanan and Shanmugam Thavaseelan, were verbally threatened and physically attacked while investigating an alleged timber trafficking operation in Murippu forest reserve in Mullaitivu district. The journalists’ attackers wiped most of the documentation they had taken of the deforestation and removed their memory cards. After the incident, Kumanan and Thavaseelan were admitted to Mullaitivu Base Hospital for treatment.        ‘Our attackers roamed free despite arrest warrants’ – Assaulted Tamil journalists speak from hospital. Tamil Guardian. Published 13th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.      Jaffna Press Club protest in Mullaitivu demanding press freedom. Tamil Guardian. Published 13th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.      මාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට පහර දුන් බව කියන එක් සැකකරුවෙකුට පමණක් ඇප. Medialk. Published 28th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.           
0516th OctoberRatnapuraA journalist has been allegedly subjected attempted assault and death threats by the staff of a hydroelectric power station in Hapugoda area in Kalawana, when he was doing an investigative reporting on the environmental damage and the difficulties to villagers caused by the power station. The journalist Rohana Samaraweera has been saved from the alleged attempted attack, after some villagers, and the Police have intervened. According to the statement given by the journalist the power station has an improperly planned, insecure water stream that causes flooding in the area, drop of water level of the river, death of fish in some seasons in the year.   තොරතුරු සොයන්න ගිය මාධ්‍යවේදියාට මැරයන් පහරදෙන්න ඇවිත්. Mawbima. Published 19th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   
0623rd OctoberColomboJournalists who went to cover proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter bombings were reported to have been chased away from the premises by the Chief Executive Officer of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) where the hearings were being held. This occurred after the journalists were instructed to stay outside during closed-door hearings. The media report indicated that when closed door hearings were held previously, seats were provided for journalists to sit and wait outside the hall where hearings were taking place but that these facilities were not available at this hearing. පාස්කු කොමිසම ආවරණයට ගිය මාධ්‍යවේදීන් එලවයි. Medialk. Published 23rd October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.     
0729th OctoberColomboReports indicate that, a decision to bar journalists from the November 3 parliamentary hearings was made at a party leaders’ meeting. The decision was allegedly based on the fact that a journalist who had covered parliamentary hearings tested positive for COVID-19.කොරෝනා නිසා පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ දොර මාධ්‍යවේදීන්ට වැසෙයි. Medialk. Published 29th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   
0818th October 2020N/AThe Commander of the Army, who also heads the COVID-19 prevention center, made threatening statements after facing criticism in the media and complaints to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) for the Army’s alleged mistreatment of apparel workers suspected of having COVID-19. The complainants to HRCSL had made the Commander a respondent. The Commander termed the allegations “unfounded and fabricated” and stated that “all those intentional fabrications bear the hallmarks of a precursor to a bigger future machination the interested elements are now mapping out in order to tarnish or ridicule the role of the troops”.        Army Troops Pooh-pooh Fabricated Attempts to Tarnish COVID-19 Humanitarian Roles by Interested Elements. Media statement. Sri Lanka Army. Published 18th Oct 2020. Last accessed 23rd Dec 2020.   ‘Dragged away like criminals’. Sunday Times. Published 18th Oct 2020. Last accessed 23rd Dec 2020.   Sri Lanka: A complaint logged against General Shavendra Silva for cruel, inhumane & degrading treatment in quarantining FTZ workers. Sri Lanka Brief. Published 19th Oct 2020. Last accessed 23rd Dec 2020.  
0918th OctoberColomboPolice are reported to have arrested a woman on or around October 18 for uploading a video on Facebook with content that is alleged to have hateful content against the Catholic Archbishop of Colombo. She has been remanded until November 2 for having committed offences under the Computer Crimes Act and Article 291A of the Penal Code. The Administrative Secretary of the Archdiocese issued a statement saying that the video released on social media had false, unfounded, insulting and misleading content and that complaints had been lodged with relevant institutions. A lawyer who had examined the video had said the police should not be involved in the matter and if the content is interpreted as defamatory, the targeted individual may have a remedy in civil courts.                                CID arrests woman for posting inter-religious hate video on FB. Colombo Page. Published on 18th Oct. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.      මුහුණු පොත ඔස්සේ කාදිනල්තුමාට අපහාස කළ කාන්තාව රිමාන්ඞ්… මානසික වෛද්‍ය වාර්තාවක් කැඳවීමටත් නියෝග. Divaina. Published on 21st Oct. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.      October: A Bleak Month for Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka. Ruki Fernnado. Sri Lanka Brief. Published on 2nd Nov. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.                
 DateDistrictRepression of state officialsSource
109th OctoberGalleWaduramba Police arrested a person who has allegedly assaulted a Police officer and a witness during an investigation. The officer has visited to investigate a complaint on allegedly cutting a tree located in a land where there is an ongoing partition case. The alleged perpetrator has first assaulted complainant, and then also slapped the Police officer who attempted to intervene. The arrested suspect will be presented before the Baddegama magistrate court, according to the media report.මානව හිමිකම් නියෝජිතයා පැමිණිලිකරුටත් පහර දෙයි. Lankadeepa. Published 9th Oct. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.
1111th OctoberAnuradhapuraThe (acting) secretary of the Rambewa Pradeshiya Sabha has made a complaint to the Police, claiming that she has been allegedly assaulted by the Chairman of the Pradeshiya Sabha. The incident has occurred as a result that she has opposed the members of Pradeshiya Sabha for issuing some machines belonging to Pradeshiya Sabha disregarding the proper procedure. During an argument on this, the Chairman of PS has slapped her at Pradeshiya Sabha premises, on 11th Oct. She has made the Police complaint, next day at Mihintale Police.  According to media reports, she has said the Police that she does not intend to go to courts, however asked to provide her with a safe environment to continue with her work. The Police subsequently has summoned the PS President, and advised him.රඹෑව ප්‍රා. සභාපතිගෙන් වැඩ බලන ලේකම්වරියට කම්මුල් පහරක්. Mawbima. Published 13th October. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   
1212th Oct 2020ColomboAppointing a family member of a deceased Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadre to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) caused numerous issues during the previous government, former President Maithripala Sirisena has told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry Probing the Easter Sunday Attacks. The former President has also said that due to the complaints lodged by the HRCSL, Sri Lankan military and Police officers had lost the opportunity to join the UN Peacekeeping Forces, which was a major source of earning foreign exchange for Sri Lanka. Few days later Divaina newspaper published another news claiming that intelligence have found the relative of LTTE leader who worked in HRCSL and has submitted 300 false reports to Human Rights office in Geneva.  The article further alleged this person had connections with TNA, and has resigned from office before the appointment of current government. The former Chairperson of HRCSL had strongly refuted former President Sirisena’s claims and had emphasized that she had never heard of that particular allegation before or that she had been summoned by the former President over the alleged inclusion of a member of the dead LTTE cadre’s family on the staff.  Appointing family of dead LTTE cadre to HRCSL caused many issues – former President. Daily News newspaper [web]. 14tth Oct 2020.   හමුදාවට එරෙහිව ‘ජිනීවා ටොම්පචයාගේ’ පැටිකිරිය හෙළි වෙයි . Divaina Newspaper [web]. 17th October 2020.        Easter Sunday probe: Former HR Chief sets the record straight. Island. Newspaper [web]. 21st October 2020.         
138th Oct 2020N/AJayaruwan Bandara who served as the Acting Director of the Medical Research Institute (MRI) was removed from his post in early October, with the Health minister explaining that his removal was done according to due procedures. Then he was appointed as the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health. Later Jayaruwan Bandara giving an interview to a web journalist, stated that he considering to retire from state service due to increased undue influences he has been facing. He further told that even though he has been the media spokesperson of the Ministry, he has been banned from participating at press briefings and conferences. He further stated his removal as the Director of Medical Research institute was a ‘conspiracy that should not have happened to any state official’.MRI Director removed in keeping with due procedure: Govt. Daily FT. 8th Oct 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   මට එල්ලවන බලපෑම වැඩිවෙනවා.. මා මාධ්‍ය ප‍්‍රකාශක වුනත් මාධ්‍ය සාකච්චා තහනම්.. විශ්‍රාම ගන්න සූදානම්..- ජයරුවන් බණ්ඩාර. LankaCNews. Published 15th Oct 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.  
1410th October 2020N/AA suspect arrested in connection with the abduction of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda who complained to the PCoI on political victimization stated that undue influences were made by Shani Abeysekera and other officials of CID.  Another official also testifying before the commission stated that because of Shani Abeysekera’s investigations state intelligence was weakened.බොරු සාක්ෂි ගෙතූ ශානිලාගේ පැටිකිරිය ජනපති කොමිසමේ දී එළියට. Hiru News. Published 13th Oct 2020. ශානි අබේසේකරගේ ක්‍රියාවන් නිසා යහපාලනයේදී බුද්ධි අංශය අඩපණ වුණා. Newsfirst. 11th Oct 2020.      
 DateDistrictOther incidentsSource
155th Oct 2020ColomboOn 5th of October, when a group of 8 youth went to Police to report a previous incident of police assault on two of them on the same day, the Police had allegedly refused to accept the complaint, assaulted them again, and remanded them. One of the fathers of the victims has also been allegedly assaulted by the Police when he has gone to see his son. During the detention, youth have been allegedly subjected to police torture again. After presenting before a judicial medical officer, 6 have been given bail by the Police, and only two of them have been presented before a magistrate. According to what Police have told the parents, the youth have allegedly assaulted the Police. නුගේගොඩ පොලීසියේදී පහර කෑ තරුණයන්ගේ කතාව. Anidda newspaper [web]. Published 30th October 2020. Last accessed on 18th of December 2020.
1612th Oct 2020BadullaA monk residing Bodirajaramaya, in Paalaawatte has been allegedly assaulted after opposing a person who was making an unplanned drainage that takes wastewater into several lands of the neighbours around the temple. The villagers who got to know the news, have also attacked the alleged perpetrator’s house.හිමි නමකට පහරදී පාලාවත්ත උණුසුම් වෙයි. Lankadeepa. Published 12th October 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.
1724th OctoberN/ASinhala language Divaina newspaper published an article titled ‘national security and NGOs intervening politics.’ It claimed that NGO heads making a serious threat by intervening into internal affairs [of the country]. It also accused that ‘NGOs in Colombo provide information to ambassadors from USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Norway’, and called for strict regulation of NGOs to prevent this treacherous act. Further it called to bring a ban on NGOs from intervening with national security and internal affairs of the country.  ජාතික ආරක්‍ෂාව සහ දේශපාලනයට මැදිහත් වන රාජ්‍ය නොවන සංවිධාන. Divaina. Published 24th October 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.
18Early October ColomboIn early October, a discussion was scheduled to be held in a church in Colombo district about 20th Amendment. The Police had visited the church several times and had called the organizers to discourage the meeting citing Covid19. They had also met with the host priest to discourage the event. At the time, there were no publicly announced COVID19 restrictions to organize such events.INFORM
1920th Oct 2020N/APresident issued the gazette calling for armed forces same as in the previous months. The involvement of armed forces in civilian activities is considered with fear by those who have dissenting views and engaged in dissenting actions with the government and critical of militarization.Extra Ordinary gazette. No 2198/10. Issued by the President GoSL. Issued 20th Oct 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.
2022nd Oct 2020N/AThe 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution Bill was passed in Parliament with 156 MPs voting for the Bill and 65 against. Under   20th   Amendment, powers of the president are strengthened, appointments to the independent commissions could be politicized. The President is able to appoint an unlimited number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and replace the Prime Minister at his own will which was previously restricted. It also affects  the  law  making  process  by  reducing  the  time  period during  which  the  public  has access  to  Bills  before  they  are passed,  and  reintroduced  the  urgent  Bill  process which was subjected to much criticism previously.  As pointed out by media unions, trade unions and various civil society groups, this amendment would have a strong negative impact on freedom of dissent, and other aspects concerning democracy.“20th Amendment to the Constitution” passed in Parliament. Sri Lanka Parliament. Published 22nd Oct 2020.  Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   Sri Lanka’s Media freedom will be threatened by proposed 20th Amendment – FMM. EconomyNext. Published 17th September 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.  
2123rd Oct 2020N/ASeveral leading politicians linked to the main opposition political party SJB have stated that they are going to expel the MPs who voted in favour of 20A constitutional amendment. 7 MPs of SJB voted in favour of 20A amendment. 23 Samagi Jana Balawegaya MPs have also requested its General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara in writing to take disciplinary action against their MPs who voted in favour of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.විස්සට පක්ෂ වූ සමගි බලවේග මන්ත්‍රීධුර අහෝසි කරයි. Anidda newspaper [web]. Published 23rd October 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.   SJB expels eight MPs who voted for 20A. Daily News newspaper [web]. Published 24th October 2020. Last accessed 20th Dec 2020.    

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