7 October, 2022


Academics Call For Corporate And State Responsibility On Managing Covid-19 In Sri Lanka

“As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, it is vital that both corporate and state entities prioritize the health and safety of workers, to prevent further outbreaks as happened at the Brandix factory,” 55 Sri Lankan academics around the world have said today.

We publish below the statement in full:

We the undersigned academics who work on Sri Lanka are disturbed by the lack of transparency and accountability by Brandix and SriLankan Airlines in the context of the threat posed to the country by COVID-19. These corporations have not shared with relevant state bodies information essential for managing COVID-19, including the original flight rosters about workers flown into Sri Lanka. As a result, a number of workers have been blamed and maligned as super-spreaders, with questionable treatment around their confinement. Treatment of workers in this way negates these companies’ duty to be transparent and claim to be responsible toward workers.

We are also concerned about reports that workers are being treated inhumanely by the authorities responsible for quarantining suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. We stand in solidarity with workers and their advocates in calling for a more humane treatment in public health responses. While acknowledging the exemplary efforts of the front-line medical teams attending to CoVID-19, we urge the state and the media to adopt a compassionate – rather than punitive – approach towards people that have been tested positively. These patients need the best possible physical and mental care and not the counter-productive stigma attached to the infection.

Citizens of Sri Lanka, including workers, require these corporations and country-level COVID-19 response teams to be held accountable in order to ensure that they, as the public, are absolved from the on-going shifting of blame onto workers. As importantly – during the time of a global pandemic – the information withheld by Brandix and Sri Lankan Airlines is critical for the Public Health authorities to discharge their duties with integrity and professionalism. As the number of COVID-19 cases increases, it is vital that both corporate and state entities prioritize the health and safety of workers, to prevent further outbreaks as happened at the Brandix factory.

Kanishka Goonewardena, University of Toronto,Canada
Arjun Guneratne, Macalester College, USA
E Valentine Daniel, Columbia University, USA
Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham, Colgate University, USA
Samanthi Gunewardena, Monash University, Australia
Vidyamali Samarasinghe, American University, USA
Nalika Gajaweera, University of Southern California, USA
Qadri Ismail, University of Minnesota, USA
Kanchana N Ruwanpura, Universityof Gothenburg, Sweden
Tariq Jazeel, University College London, UK
Geethika Dharmasinghe, Cornell University, USA
Mythri Jegathesan, Santa Clara University, USA
Maryse Jayasuriya, University of Texas, El Paso, USA
Jayanthi Lingham, Warwick University, UK
Narayani Sritharan, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Ananda Abeysekara, Virginia Polytechnic University, USA
Vivian Choi, St Olaf College, USA
V.V. Ganeshananthan, University of Minnesota, USA
Sandya Hewamanne, University of Essex, UK
Sharika Thiranagama, Stanford University, USA
Vasuki Nesiah, New York University, USA
Pradeep Sangapala, University of Alberta, Canada
Ashwini Vasanthakumar, Queen’s University, Canada
Yalini Dream, University of San Francisco, USA
Shobana Xavier, Queen’s University, Ca
Thanuja Thurairajah, University of Zurich, Switzerland
A.R.M. Imtiyaz, Temple University, USA
Geeta H Patel, University of Virginia
Pradeep Sangapala, University of Alberta, CA
H.L Seneviratne, University of Virginia, USA
Neena Mahadev, Yale-NUS College, Singapore
Mahendran Thiravarangan, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Amarnath Amarasingam, Queen’s University, Canada
Asha Abeysekera, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Farah Mihlar, University of Exeter, UK
Thaksila Tissera, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA
Jeanne Marecek, Swarthmore College, USA
Neil de Votta, Wake Forest University, USA
Nari Senanayake, University of Kentucky, USA
Kasun Gajasinghe, Michigan State University, USA
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College, USA
Themal Ellawala, University of Illinois – Chicago, USA
Kiran Grewal, Goldsmiths College, U.K.
R Cheran, University of Windsor, Canada
Devaka Gunawardena, University of California-LA, USA
Oliver Walton, University of Bath, UK
Vindya Buthupitiya, University College – London, UK
Eva Ambose, University of Tubingen, GERMANY
Rachel Seoghie, University of Kent, UK
Thiruni Kelegama, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Thiyagarah Waradas, University of Bath, UK
Nilanjana Premaratne, University of Umea, Sweden
Sonali Perera, CUNY, US

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Public Health Inspectors led by Medical Officers of Health should have met/persuaded the factory workers among whom the first cases appeared, to quarantine themselves to prevent further spread of the virus.
    Instead, the army and police had been given this task. They as usual had treated these women like convicted criminals.
    This may have been the direct result of appointing military men to administrative posts.

  • 5

    I think it is clear this is at this point a community spread. I am not sure why the health ministry still keeps saying it is from the clusters. It is important that this is tested heavily regardless of connection start from Hospitals Private clinics and more random testing needs to be done. The danger of the cluster theory is that there is asymptomatic spread and the clusters could be anywhere.

    It is important that this cluster theory is forgotten at this point and more random and targeted testing is done and targeted actions are taken to close down the affected areas . otherwise in a few weeks the clusters could be everywhere.

  • 4

    Today, GMOA stated that failure to take appropriate steps by government and administration lead to the deterioration. In my opinion Rajapaksas had their own stage managed Covid plans and the deterioration was expected.

  • 2

    They bought a PCR testing machine from China, no tender. Nobody knows who bought the machine though Appe Aanduwa paid for it. No testing is being done and government not willing to accept the community spread or to introduce island wide lockdown (It is not that I am recommending lockdown without knowing the ground situation, of which any Aanduwa so far said is lie). It appears China quickly reassembled and sent another Nuraicholai Machine. In two months, the machine is down during the height of the infection; wow! If the computer part of the machine is down, there is a good chance somebody hacked to show their anger over Lankawe receiving Secretary Mike Pompeo. Chinese embassy had shown its violent opposition on America and personally on State Secretary too. Chinese Communist Party strongly opposed State Secretary Pompeo more than it acts when American diplomats going to Taiwan. I am slightly in a different thinking, if Hangbangtota only signed off for China or if there a secret pact for China to run the whole country. I asked repeatedly why somebody wants the 20A now because the problems in the country now are Minority issues, Economy, Covid-19. For all these, persuasion (education) only works, no military solution, only which needs power in central point. Anybody Knows?

  • 2

    Brigadier K K S Perakum of #SriLanka Mechanized Infantry Regiment allegedly threatened medical staff with death and used racially abusive language containing words like “Bloody #Tamil, Prabhakaran, we’ll kill you“ says the country’s top Doctors Union #SLArmy #lka @GMOASL pic.twitter.com/1dAMnQhWcu

    — JDS (@JDSLanka) October 28, 2020

    The Media. Illakku has reported like this. I didn’t see yet in JDS’s website.

  • 2

    Security of the Nation is not about military and military style rule. It is not only about security of one community but security of all communities and all citizens. When I look at the list of academics all are from western nations except two from Jaffna (may be it is another country). I don’t know why the so called patriotic academics in Srilanka not part of the signatories. Are they afraid to speak or part of dictatorship. Those who claimed personal victory over covid-19 three months ago also should claim the defeat now. It is sad that they now blame people and enjoy the victory over democracy.

  • 1

    Chinese technicians arrived to repair the PCR machine which they supplied to Lanka just few months ago. Chinese embassy says if any of their machines are used 24/7 it is expected to malfunction because it is “MADE IN CHINA”. Due to malfunction 20,000 PCR test results are pending. Can those academics address the state in finding the responsible person behind this purchase.

    • 1

      It may have given free to Gotabaya for a deal of …..Srilankan land as a military base.

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