The government of Sri Lanka should release two defenders of human rights, one of which is a priest, since their arrests have been an attempt at silencing criticism said human rights organizations Tuesday.
A statement issued jointly by the Forum Asia, Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group, the International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch called the arrests of Ruki Fernando from INFORM based in Sri Lanka and Catholic priest Father Praveen Mahesan arbitrary.
Police said they had arrested the two under the Prevention of Terrorism Act because they had attempted to create communal disturbance and disharmony.
The government is facing criticism for its crack down on the rights activists but was rejecting calls that an international inquiry be held into the last months of a civil war that lasted decades and ended back in 2009.
Government forces were able to defeat Tamil Tiger separatist rebels, but still have been accused of causing civilian deaths in large numbers during the run up to the end of the war.
The act against anti-terrorism had been criticized widely in Sri Lanka as well as by groups from the United Nations, which said it has created arbitrary detentions without fair trials or due process and has led to disappearances and torture.
Fernando is an advisor for the documenting of issues on human rights and Mahesan from the Center for Reconciliation and Peace have been the prominent figures promoting media freedom and human rights in the north part of the island, where the major fighting had taken place during the civil war.
Last week, government authorities in Kilinochchi to the north arrested Balendran Jeyakurmari an outspoken activist along with her daughter, who is just 13. The two were campaigning for relatives to be released that were missing since the war.
A spokesperson from the military said the two had been arrested for the harboring of an ex-rebel who had shot at the police.
Praveen and Fernando were arrested after traveling to Kilinochchi to check on the Jeyakurmari case.