Sri Lanka: Stop repression and attacks on democratic rights

Defend the right to protest
Release all those arrested during protests

On the 21st July, Ranil Wickremasinghe assumed the Presidency of Sri Lanka after the former President Gotabaya Rajapakse fled his official residence and was chased out of the country by the prolonged mass protest movement, Aragalaya (Struggle). Since coming to power Wickremasinghe has continuously tried to repress and crush the protest movement, the regime is fearful of a new round of mass resistance developing. This repression started with an attack on the ‘Gota Go Gama’ protesters on the 22nd of July and has continued until the present time.

Since then thousands of protesters have been arrested on various protests and under numerous charges. Some were detained under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, PTA. This is a clear violation of the democratic rights of the people.

For the last one and a half months many protests have been called in opposition to the repressive measures enacted by Ranil Wickremasinghe and his government demanding the democratic right to protest. The majority of those protests have been brutally crushed by the government and a large number of people have been arrested who participated in them.

On Saturday 24th of September the police launched a brutal attack on the protest march in Colombo called by the Socialist Student Union in Sri Lanka. The protest was broadcast live and it was clear it was a peaceful protest. The police intervened using brutal force to disperse what they called an “illegal” march. During this attack five protesters were injured and 84 were arrested including a 17 year old girl. Freedom of expression and the right to protest are fundamental democratic rights.

We therefore demand:
The Sri Lanka government stops repressing peaceful protests and that basic democratic freedoms including the right to protest are allowed.

Abolition of the draconian repressive PTA and attempts to prevent protest.

Immediate release of all detained activists including Wasantha Mudalige, Hashantha Jeewantha and Galwewa Siridhamma.

We ask that protests be sent to the Sri Lankan government and Sri Lankan embassies and high commissions around the world. Where possible pickets should be organised to show solidarity with those suffering oppression because they oppose the austerity measures being imposed by this government.

The Committee for a Workers’ International sends its support and solidarity to all protesters and supports the demands of the Aragalaya movement.

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September 2022