Intense argument over actress-activist Damitha’s arrest | Daily News

Intense argument over actress-activist Damitha’s arrest

An intense argument erupted in the House yesterday as several Opposition MPs and the Opposition Leader raised concerns over the arrest of actress-activist Damitha Abeyratne. The Opposition Leader noted that Abeyratne has not done anything wrong, and thus, she should be released immediately.

MP Dr. Harsha de Silva questioned why only Abeyratne was arrested when thousands of people entered the President Secretariat. “Why target her? Is it because she is very vocal and critical about human and social rights of the citizens of the country? I will read out from the UNHRC’s recent recommendations to Sri Lanka. It says to take measures to guarantee all people’s economic and social rights during the economic crisis. People go on to the stage because we and the government have failed. People are blaming us. We need to have the courage to accept that we made massive mistakes and made this country bankrupt. Don’t arrest people who are accusing us of doing that. We are responsible. If we are not, who is? We cannot shoot the messenger. She is taking the message of the people to the Government. So please consider that. Or else we will get into trouble with Geneva as well. I was also with her that day. Why don’t you arrest me as well?”

In reply, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga noted that Abeyratne has the right to take legal measures if her rights were violated. “It is important to focus on the violence which took place in the country from March 31, 2022. The Government will not leave space for anyone to disturb the law and order in the country,” he said.

MP Namal Rajapaksa who added his observations said, “A person should be questioned if that person has done something wrong. Abeyratne will be released if she has not done anything wrong. Nobody should defend her if she has done something wrong. The investigation should continue with everyone’s assistance.”

On the same topic, SLPP MP S. Kumarasiri pointed out that she has violated the privileges of all 225 MPs by calling them ‘kalakanni’ (someone who wastes time doing nothing productive).

Meanwhile the Opposition and Independent MPs raised their concerns over the agreement the Government has reached with the International Monetary Fund. National People’s Power Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake urged the Government to table the agreement, pointing out that it is directly linked to people’s lives. If the Government is hiding the agreement, it means that it incorporates clauses which are detrimental to the people’s wellbeing, Dissanayake noted. He raised a question regarding the agreement under Standing Order 27/2 as well.

“On September 1, it was announced that a Staff-Level Agreement was signed between the International Monetary Fund staff and Government officials regarding a US$ 2.9 billion loan to be provided within a period of 48 months. Presented as the only solution to the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka, this first agreement with the IMF is crucially linked to the lives of the Sri Lankan people. However, the fact that such a crucial agreement has been hidden from the people of the country is extremely problematic and at the same time, the concealment also causes great suspicion among the people,” Dissanayake said.

Independent MP Professor G.L. Peiris reiterating Dissanayake’s opinion pointed out that the country ended up in a crisis because information was hidden from the people.

Independent MP Dr. Nalaka Godahewa too pointed out that covering up information on the economic crisis dragged the country from bad to worse. “When we announced the country’s bankruptcy, it affected us the most. Now, nobody is ready to give us loans. So we kindly request the Government to table the IMF agreement to raise awareness,” Godahewa said.

The Opposition Leader also urged the Government to table the IMF agreement.

Responding to the Opposition’s concerns, Leader of the House Susil Premajayantha said that no agreement was signed with the IMF and only an understanding has been reached with the IMF staff.

In the meantime, it is reported that the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Martin Changong, is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on September 11. According to sources, Changong is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka based on strengthening Parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka among other reasons. The IPU General Secretary is to meet senior representatives of the Government as well as of the Opposition during this visit.

The House is to meet today (9) at 9.30 am.

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