Friday, February 4, 2011

Violent attack on opposition led march and media on the Independence day

NfR expresses its deep concern that a peaceful march  by the main opposition political party UNP has come under violent attack in the presence of sizeable police force. We also express our concern that journalists covering the event have been attacked by politically motivated thugs. MTV network has reported that their cameraman’s video camera has been taken away after assaulting him. This incident took place on 4 February 2011 in Punchi Borella in Colombo.

The Free Media Movement, the freedom of expression watchdog of the country, has already issued a statement condemning the attack on media personnel and opposition politicians.
The march and rally  was organized as part of a campaign for the release of former army commander and defeated Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka.

Human Rights Lawyer and Western Provincial Counselor Shiral Lakthialaka told NfR that a pro-government gang attacked a very peaceful demonstration while police did not take any action to stop the violence. According to Lakthialaka this attack shows once again that this government does not tolerate any dissenting voices in society.

Deputy leader of UNP, Karu Jayasuriya , told Sunday Times Online that these men were carrying swords, iron poles, stones and petrol bombs and attacked the peaceful protesters. The same report also mentions that a number of vehicles of opposition politicians were also damaged. Another news website, LankaTRUTH, has reported that one Minister and one Parliamentarian of the Government were behind the attack.

It is an irony that this violent attack unleashed on democratic rights of the people while the 63rd Independence Day celebrations took place elsewhere in the country.
NfR views this attack on media and opposition as a continuation of suppression of democratic and human rights in Sri Lanka, even in the post-war period. Once and again Sri Lankan police has protected or became by-standers when pro-Government gangs attacked the media, civil society and opposition political events. This shows that rule of law remains as an empty phrase in Sri Lankan society today.

NfR condemns the attack and calls upon all democratic forces in the country to collectively demand that these violent assaults come to an immediate end and the democratic rights of the people be protected.

Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka
Steering committee : Kshama Ranawana ( Canada) Lionel Bopage ( Australia), Nadarasa Sarawanan (Norway), Nadarajah Kuruparan(UK) Padmi Liyanage (Germany), Raveendran Pradeepan (France), Rudhramoorthy Cheran (Canada), Saman Wagaarachchi ( USA), Sunanda Deshapriya ( Switzerland)

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