Police Attacks Protesting Students in Sri Lanka

On 29th November 2015 a student march organized by the Inter University Students’ Federation of Sri Lanka was brutally attacked by the Police near the Higher Education Ministry in Colombo. The protest march was organized by the IUSF against the cut in Higher National Diploma for Accountancy and the privatization of that diploma.

Students were attacked in front of the Higher Education Ministry while they were awaiting the response of the Ministry to a request to meet the Minister to discuss the matter directly with him.

According to the convener of the IUSF Lahiru Weerasekare, the students were attacked with tear gas and the retreating students were then chased down the streets as far as more than 1km and attacked by the police.  8 students were hospitalized as a result of the police assault.

After the brutal clampdown on the protest 39 students including 5 students were arrested by the police. Later all of them were released on bail.

IUSF has made complaints to the Human Rights Commission and the Police Commission of Sri Lanka.

On 3rd November another protest against the clampdown was successfully concluded. However, enjoining orders were obtained by the police against the students from marching towards the Parliament.

The Present government famously capitalized on the students’ opposition to the previous regime and some video clips of the protesting students against the Mahinda Rajapase regime were used in TV advertisements as well. While the coalition government came to power on a rhetoric of democracy the brutal attack on the students’ acts as a serious breach of all hopes of democracy under the present regime as well.

It should also be noted that opposition headed by TNA MP, R.Sambanthan has raised serious concerns about the attack in the Parliament. However Ministers of the previous regime have also joined in to take advantage of the public’s anger towards the newly elected government’s anti-democratic behaviour.

Prepared by – Lakmali Hemachandra