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ATA is a continuation of PTA in more repressive form – Prof. Uyangoda



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) is a direct response to the citizens’ protest movement of 2022 and the continuation of these protests this year, Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda, a political scientist, said during an online seminar on the ATA, organised by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) recently.

“The ATA is a continuation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in a much repressive form. The terrorism it seeks to suppress is citizen’s political activism. The proposed law frames terrorism as a broad, arbitrary and an alarmingly undemocratic manner,” he said.Prof. Uyangoda said that people had used the term, ‘draconian’, to describe the PTA, however the new ATA went beyond the PTA in its repressive capacity.

“The present government and the President want to address two dimensions. One is that the authority and legitimacy of the current ruling class is in a severe crisis. Most of the people reject the political order run by the current politicians as a whole. This is a severe form of political crisis. The second aspect is that the executive presidential system introduced in 1978 has also faced a severe crisis. The crisis was so deep that unarmed protestors could dislodge a very powerful president. That crisis of executive political order continues,” he said.

What Wickremesinghe is trying to do is to resolve the twin crisis of the existing political order by using the state and political power he has access to. These twin crises occurred because politically conscious citizens not only reject, for the first time, the legitimacy of the political class but also, they are demanding a radical transformation of political culture and class, he said.

“This kind of transformative social demands are not acceptable for the ruling elites. So, what could they do? One thing they could do is introduce new legislation that would transform Sri Lanka into a police state under the supervision of the current political leadership. The political implications of the ATA are far reaching than the PTA or the emergency regulations that we have been having since the 1970s. ATA is trying to achieve what the PTA or the emergency regulations could not achieve, i.e. an effective police state. Sri Lanka is entering a state of heightened de-democratisation,” he said.

Sri Lanka has been in a path of rapid de-democratisation since the 1970s with sporadic attempts to re-democratise it by sections of the people and reformist politicians. However, last year Sri Lanka entered a new phase of re-democratisation with the protest movement.

“What the government has been trying to do is constantly terrorize the politically conscious and active groups of citizens,” he said.

The ATA criminalises the citizen’s political activism and in turn makes the citizen’s political activism an anti-state political activism, Uyangoda said.

“The punishment for activism is 20 years in jail. One of the lessons that the political class has learnt from the protests last year is that they should not allow Sri Lankans to become active, assertive citizens. They don’t only want passive citizens but also subservient citizens. They want to make politically active citizens to be criminals. That is the police state dimension of this,” he said.

He added the proposed ATA is also an attempt by the government to prepare for the social unrest that is likely to arise in the country due to its disastrous austerity measures.

Uyangoda suggests that the burden of economic revival is being placed solely on the poor and middle class, which has created an impending social crisis. He views the proposed ATA as a continuation of the current Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in a much more oppressive form that seeks to counter citizens’ political activism. He warned that the ruling class’s undemocratic response to quash protests and demonstrations would further oppress the people and turn them into terrorists.

Uyangoda argued that the ruling class was aware that their economic programme was likely to lead to daily protests and demonstrations on the country’s roads, and they were trying to prevent such events by strengthening their capabilities and passing oppressive laws. He urged the government to reconsider their approach, warning that such laws will only exacerbate the social crisis and lead to further unrest.

“The middle class has become somewhat politically active. They are the ones opposing the new tax reforms the most. So, the proletariat and the middle classes have both become politicised. One of the ways that capitalism can respond to this is by forcefully de-politicising the people. To achieve this the government has to further strengthen the repressive laws and mechanisms it has. The new enemies of the ruling class are political citizens, the trade unions, the farmers, etc. The government wants to make any form of opposition and act of terrorism,” he said.

Prof. Shyama Banneheka, head of FUTA said that the proposed ATA goes beyond anti-terrorism laws found in most countries. However, it is quite similar to laws passed by governments that attempt to crush dissent and suppress perceived threats by aggrieved people who are affected by disastrous government policies.

Meanwhile, Ermiza Tegal, lawyer and a human rights activist, said that the ATA allows the executive to take over the power of the judiciary. The ATA has a clause empowering the President to make regulations and directions.

“Right now emergency law is the only law that the President can make and that is in an emergency situation. This ATA allows the president to make regulations and directions not only during a time of emergency,” she said.

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“A comprehensive international dialogue essential to address global challenges in 2024” – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivering the opening speech at the ‘Berlin Global’ Dialogue today (28)

President Ranil Wickremesinghe delivering the opening speech at the ‘Berlin Global’ Dialogue in Berlin, Germany, today (28), expressed the need for a comprehensive dialogue between Western nations and China, the United States of America and China and the European Union and China, as a critical component of a robust international plan capable of addressing the global challenges anticipated in 2024.

The President also highlighted that initiatives such as the ‘Belt and Road’ have led to increased scrutiny of countries like Sri Lanka, potentially impacting the economic prospects of nations in the Global South. Nevertheless, he emphasized that Sri Lanka has a history of engaging with countries like the United States, India, and China, making such interactions a familiar and essential part of international relations.

During the subsequent round table discussion, President Ranil Wickremesinghe also expressed gratitude for the support received from India and Bangladesh in addressing Sri Lanka’s recent economic challenges.”

President Wickremesinghe underlined the contrast between advanced economies, which possess buffers and reserves to weather these shocks, and developing nations that lack such resources. He emphasized that this disparity was the starting point for the sovereign debt crisis.

The President cautioned that without immediate corrective measures, the world could be on the brink of another crisis. He acknowledged that many developing countries are burdened with substantial debt, highlighting the inadequacy of existing mechanisms like the IMF to address this new situation. He shared Sri Lanka’s experience when declaring bankruptcy, which led to a halt in foreign funding and triggered a political crisis.


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Renew firearm license for 2024 before 31st December 2023 – Ministry of Defence




The Ministry of Defence has announced that the renewal of firearm license of individuals/ institutions for the year 2024 will be carried out from 01 October 2023 to 31 December 2023 and the required details can be downloaded from the Defence Ministry’s website

Firearm license renewal for 2024 will not be carried out after 31 December 2023. It is also informed that possession of a firearm without a valid license is a punishable offense under provisions of Section 22 of the Firearms Ordinance.

Registration renewal of Private Security Firms for the year 2024/2025 will be carried out from 01.10.2023 to 31.12.2023. Any renewals made after the deadline will be subjected to a fine or legal action.

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“Unite to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048” – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe in his Milad-Un-Nabi message urged all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048.

“Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all” he said.

The full text of the President’s message :

“My greetings to the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world, observing Milad Un Nabi, being the auspicious occasion commemorating the birth anniversary of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam.

He is celebrated as the final messenger of Allah, known for profound teachings of love and peace that encompass humanity. His journey to spread the message of Islam in the challenging societal context of that time, was marked by significant trials. Even in the face of adversity, the Holy Prophet’s unwavering patience and equanimous strength served as powerful attributes. He was victorious in attaining his aspirations, through boundless sacrifices for faith and humanity.

As we celebrate Prophet Muhammad’s birthday today, it is timely to resolve to uphold the values that were the hallmark of his life, which include mutual understanding, brotherhood, assistance to one another and fairness. Our commitment to fostering social harmony is the most meritorious tribute which could be paid to his legacy.

I urge all Muslim brethren in Sri Lanka, to unite at this juncture in working towards strengthening the path, to secure a developed Sri Lanka by 2048. Let us together overcome the challenges facing our nation, while adhering to the principles espoused by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, in ensuring a brighter future for all.

I wish all those of the Islamic faith, a joyous Eid Milad-Un-Nabi, filled with love, peace and prosperity!”

Ranil Wickremesinghe
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

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