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Samagi Jana Balavegaya youth wing pledges to hold party accountable

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya’s (SJB) recently formed youth wing, the Samagi Tharuna Balavegaya (STB), will hold the SJB accountable in its election promises, including a pledge to ensure 25% youth participation at upcoming elections, a group of STB spokespersons said.

Journalist-turned political activist Rasika Jayakody who is now formally affiliated with the STB told reporters today that the group will not hesitate to criticise the SJB if the latter’s conduct warrants such criticism.

“Young people are the most revolutionary and the most critical of the society they live in, and it is they that confront the powers that be. We will continue to uphold that radical spirit of youthful activism,” he said.

Jayakody was critical of what he called the government’s oppression of young activists affiliated with the opposition.

“A lot of youth activists aligned with the opposition were arrested recently on charges of promoting falsehoods. But somehow that same law didn’t apply to those linked to the government. A medical doctor connected to Viyath Maga published fake news on Facebook. There was no action against that doctor. However, opposition activists were unfairly detained and questioned, suppressing their voices,” he said.

Stressing that there is no equality before the law under the present administration, Jayakody said the SJB will continue to agitate against such suppression.

Moratuwa Municipal Council Member Lhini Fernando who also spoke at the press conference said the formation of the STB was a giant leap in securing the rights of young Sri Lankans.

“The youth must be active participants in the country’s political process. On Monday (15), the SJB pledged to give nominations to more young leaders, to ensure 25% youth representation at the upcoming local, provincial and parliamentary elections,” she said.

Fernando went on to say that the STB is founded on three principles: humanity progressivism and patriotism, and called for young voters to be more progressive and explore new ideas that can challenge the traditional political framework of the country and fight for what is right.

The SJB will take the lead in the post-COVID-19 discourse, Fernando further said, and the party’s pledges will not be limited to mere rhetoric but will be included in writing in the party’s manifesto for the upcoming parliamentary election.

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“This is not about supporting one party. We must all strive to participate in the change that we wish to see in the county,” she added.

Meanwhile, SJB politician Sasanika Jayalath Jayasundara condemned the recent police action against a protest organised by the Frontline Socialist Party in Colombo.

“There should be space in this country for youth to protest peacefully. We saw how a young woman was thrown into a jeep in front of the cameras. We strongly condemn it. If this is how the government behaves before the media, we can’t imagine how it would treat the youth in the future. We believe this is a rehearsal for the coming oppression of the youth,” she said.

Activist Shashane Fernando charged that the government was blaming the country’s public servants for its alleged mismanagement.

“Young people who supported this government have lost faith. Whatever its flaws, if the Yahapalana Government had been allowed to distribute tabs among school children, distance learning would’ve been a reality today. The government just keeps passing the buck,” said Fernando.

“The post COVID era is going to be very challenging. The World Bank has predicted that hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost in Sri Lanka. Instead of planning for these eventualities, the government is hell bent on chasing its dream of a two thirds majority,” he added. (Colombo/Jun17/2020)

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