UPDATE:(2.15pm) Nathasha Edirisooriya, who was arrested and remanded for allegedly making disrespectful remarks on Buddhism, granted bail by the Colombo High Court. She was released on a personal bail of Rs. 100,000.

On May 28, Nathasha Edirisooriya was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) for allegedly making disrespectful remarks about Buddhism.

Earlier today, Natasha Edirisooriya further remanded until July 19 by the Fort Magistrate Court.

CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, urges the government of Sri Lanka to immediately release youth activist and stand-up comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya and drop the charges against her unconditionally. Her arrest and detention go against the country’s international human rights obligations to protect fundamental freedoms.

Nathasha Edirisooriya was arrested on 27 May 2023, accused of insulting Buddhism and hate speech for two jokes made during a comedy performance published on YouTube three days earlier. An edited clip of the performance was circulated, resulting in severe social media backlash. She retracted the video the same day and publicly apologized.

On the night of 27 May 2023, Nathasha was prevented from travelling and subsequently arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Bandaranaike International Airport. The police initially refused access to lawyers or her partner.

Jayani Natasha Edirisooriya, a Sri Lankan stand-up comedienne, was arrested on accusations that she “defamed Buddhism” through her performance in a comedy program, “Modibhimanaya” (Fool’s Pride) in April. The immediate reason for the campaign against Edirisooriya was some remarks she allegedly made in a satirical manner referring to what has been said in Buddhist literature on the birth and early childhood life of Lord Buddha,