Cabinet “disapproves” of the way Police handled Black Lives Matter demos in Colombo on Tuesday – Bandula
ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Cabinet of Ministers are joining a host of others in expressing their disapproval of the way Police reacted to activists staging a “Black Lives Matter” protest in Colombo on Tuesday.
The Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunewardena told reporters that President Rajapaksa had advised the police to disperse the protestors based on the COVID 19 prevention regulations rather than attack them.
Police grabbed many protestors and crammed them into crowded vehicles after they began a largely peaceful demonstration Tuesday.
The protest was led by the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) but joined by other activist groups.
The Police had obtained a court order that prevented demonstrations around the premises of the US Embassy in Colpetty. However, some of the arrests were made several kilometres away at Town Hall.
Police Spokesman SP Jaliya Senaratne said that the court order covered the “whole Colombo area.”
An organisation called the Liberation Movement in a statement said that the treatment the police gave the protestors on Tuesday contrasted with the way they acted during the funeral of former Minister Arumugam Thondaman.
“Large crowds were allowed to gather and parade the streets” during the funeral it pointed out.
“It shows that there is one law for the rich and powerful and another law for ordinary people,” the statement said.
Minister Gunewardena said the situations that occurred after the death of Minister Thondaman and after liquor stores were reopened were unexpected and after that procedures have been put into place to prevent such situations from recurring.
Gunewardene also said there was evidence that some of the protestors had provoked police by attacking the officers.
“There is photographic evidence to indicate that some of the organisers were the first to attack the police officers when they tried to disperse them based on the court order,” he said.
At a Press Conference held yesterday Director of legal Division of Police SSP Ruwan Gunasekara yesterday said that the health authorities have warned against protests and other gatherings as there is a danger of COVID 19 being spread as a result.
However, LM pointed out that the police had crammed the detained persons into vehicles showing complete disregard to the social distancing guidelines given by the Health Authorities.
They also added that the protests when they began had followed the guidelines to the letter.
Meanwhile, the Police Media Unit said that 30 policemen including the Officer in Charge of the Colpetty police station had been sent to the Attidiya Quarantine Centre as a precaution.
Police produced 53 protestors before a Magistrate Tuesday night and all were released on bail. (Colombo June 11, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana and Imesh Ranasinghe