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Police actions against peaceful protestors in Colombo condemned

PACKED IN A TRUCK – Police arrested protestors and packed them into crowded vehicles yesterday.

ECONOMYNEXT – There is a chorus of condemnation of the way Police yesterday broke up and arrested activists protesting against racial discrimination in the United States as two protestors were admitted to hospital due to injuries suffered in the melee.

One of the injured is Rashmi Divyanjali the young woman news videos showed police officers flinging into a truck packed full of detained people. She has been admitted to the Karapitiya hospital with back pain.

The other injured person is Duminda Nagamuwa the spokesperson for the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) which organized the protest.

He was admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo after his abdomen became swollen after being struck by batons, Pubudu Jayagoda of the FSP said.

Several groups issued statements against how the police bundled protestors into packed vehicles after they staged peaceful demonstrations in several places in Colombo.

Jayagoda told EconomyNext that although the protestors observed social distancing and also sanitized their hands and wore masks, the police wore no protective gear.

He said that the FSP has written to the Director-General Health Services complaining against the Police.

He added that the FSP plans to complain to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and also may file a Fundamental Rights application against the police.

Police had earlier obtained a Court Order against any protests outside the US Embassy under the Quarantine Ordinance.

However most of the arrests were carried out in areas away from the Embassy premises.

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The police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne had said the Court Order was applicable in the Colombo area, although a copy of the order obtained by us showed it was effective only around the US Embassy premises.

The US Embassy also made a statement saying it had no objection to peaceful protests.

Among others who were dismayed at the conduct of the Police was Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna candidate Namal Rajapaksa who called for an investigation into the conduct of the police.

The Progressive Women’s Collective in a public statement asked on what basis these arrests were made.

They also said, “it is ironic that police clearly disregarded rules on social distancing when they forcefully bundled demonstrators into packed vehicles, violating the very court order they were ostensibly implementing by preventing the protest.”

“It is also extremely clear that the government is selective in its implementation of law and order. The funeral of a prominent former Minister of the Cabinet recently flouted all quarantine rules and a protest by pro-government groups outside the Election Commission on the 8th of June was allowed with no disruption,” the statement added.

Police arrested and produced 53 people before Colombo Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake last night and were all released on bail. (Colombo, June 10, 2020)