BASL, Cardinal, HRCSL, etc., condemn the attack on protesters
By Rathindra Kuruwita
A number of professional associations, religious leaders, politicians and commissions yesterday condemned Friday’s attack on unarmed protesters opposite the Presidential Secretariat. SLPP MP Dallas Alahapperuma condemned the attacks stating that it was ‘the manifestation of a military mindset and will be hugely detrimental to Sri Lanka.”
Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Communist Party (CP), the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) and other parties too condemned the attacks.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said that Wickremesinghe had come into power stating that he could protect the Constitution. However, within 24 hours of his appointment, Wickremesinghe had violated the Fundamental Rights of the people.
“If there are negative fallout due to this attack, the President must be held responsible. I urge the President not to use military power to harass those who are undergoing great sufferings,” the Cardinal said.
The Cardinal added that the protesters had been planning to vacate their camps near the Presidential Secretariat on Friday evening.
“The security forces attacked unarmed protesters while they were sleeping. This is a brutal attack. There must be an independent and transparent investigation into this incident. I will request the UNHRC to look into this,” he said.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) strongly and unreservedly condemns the use of force and violence by the authorities in attacking protesters at Galle Face in the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat, BASL President Saliya Peiris said.
“It is apparent that hundreds of military personnel and police had blocked the access roads to Galle Face and prevented the public from entering the area. Attorneys-at-Law who tried to enter the area has been prevented from doing so by force personnel. The BASL has been informed that at least two Attorneys-at-Law who sought to intervene in their professional capacity had been assaulted by service personnel. Video footage also shows unarmed civilians being assaulted by the security forces,” he said.
Peiris added that the BASL is aware that there have been several persons arrested by the armed forces including at least one lawyer and several journalists. The BASL demands an immediate halt to the unjustified and disproportionate actions of the Armed Forces targeting civilians, he said.
“The BASL demands that President Ranil Wickremesinghe ensure that he and his government respect the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights of the people. The use of the Armed Forces to suppress civilian protests on the very first day in office of the new President is despicable and will have serious consequences on our country’s social, economic and political stability,” he said. Peiris said that the BASL calls for an immediate inquiry into the incidents and for disciplinary action against all persons involved. All those involved including those who gave orders on the same must be held accountable, he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) condemned the incident and called it a “brutal and despicable attack” that is a “total violation of the fundamental rights of the people by the actions of the Executive.” The HRCSL urged the government to identify the perpetrators and take appropriate action against them.
Meanwhile, civil society grouping ‘Direction Sri Lanka’ has condemned what it called a brutal attack on unarmed protestors in the early hours of yesterday (22) by the government. The grouping questioned the circumstances the police and the military were deployed to remove protestors from Galle Face and the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat. The organization said: “There are also reports of force being used on Journalists and Lawyers which is also categorically condemned. There was information to the effect that the Protestors were to hand over the Presidential Secretariat that they had been occupying at 2 PM today, and there is no justification why, after several days, they were required to be forcibly removed just a few hours prior to their hand over.