Sri Lanka: Repressive regime forced to release abducted activists

Protest in response and release of the two shows potential for united struggle

The brutal government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is undoubtedly behind the abduction of two activists, Premakumar Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle of the Frontline Socialist Party. After three days of interrogation at some kind of camp to which they had both been taken separately, they were released yesterday. Dimuthu Attygalle was dropped by her captors from one of the infamous white vans, only when the Sri Lankan police had put Premakumar Gunaratnam onto a plane. He was deported to Australia where his wife and children live.

Mr Gunaratnam and Ms Attygalle were abducted on the eve of the formation of a new party – the Frontline Socialist Party.

The abduction and persecution of the two was condemned by both Sinhala and Tamil activists in the country and in the diaspora.

Amidst international protests and in fear of uniting the fight-back, the Sri Lankan government backed down and released Premakumar Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle. But the fate of two other activists previously abducted, along with a number of others, and all the Tamils still cruelly held in detention camps, are not known.

Despite the release of Premakumar Gunaratnam and Dimuthu Attygalle, a protest went ahead in London on 10 April. Around 50 people protested in front of the Sri Lankan High Commission, expressing their anger against the on-going persecution of political activities by the regime. They chanted, “End the white van democracy” (referring to the white vans which are used to abduct people) and “Release all political prisoners”. Sinhala and Tamil-speaking people participated in the protest and expressed their unity against the current regime.

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