Sri Lanka: Defiant march for media freedom in Colombo

Beginnings of fight-back against dictatorial Rajapakse regime

USP leader speaks at Jayawardena Centre rally

USP leader speaks at Jayawardena Centre rally

Leaders of opposition parties and trade unions in Sri Lanka turned out on a defiant protest against the dictatorial regime of Mahinda Rajapakse on Wednesday, June 10. More than a thousand people, with banners, placards and black ‘gags’ over their mouths demanded an end to press censorship and condemned the brutal attack on Poddala Jayantha, the secretary of the Working Journalists’ Association earlier in the month. Among the demonstrators were members of the Bank Employees union, the Teachers’ Union, journalists and other trade unionists.

“It was a marvellous demonstration,” said Siritunga Jayasuriya of the United Socialist Party (CWI, Sri Lanka), one of the main organisers along with other opposition parties. “It got TV and press coverage and showed people that workers will not be intimidated. We will not let this government silence those who voice criticism of their methods and demand basic human, democratic and trade union rights.

“This marks the beginning of a fight-back even before the Rajapakse chauvinists have finished celebrating their bloody ‘victory’ over the Tamil people in the North of the island. The events today have given us renewed confidence to continue the fight against dictatorship and for the right of working and poor people to a future free of war and dictatorship”.

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June 2009