1 December, 2023


Civil Society Demands Immediate Investigation Into Brutal Police Attack On Students

A group of concerned academics, civil society activists and artistes have today demanded National Police Commission to immediately conduct an investigation into brutal police attack on HND (Higher National Diploma) students on Wednesday (29/10/2015).

Issuing a statement they said; “At the same time, we stress the need to conduct these investigations impartially and make their findings public and that police officers, and those who issued orders to the police to act the way they did, are held publicly accountable. In addition, we demand that the President and Prime Minister reveal their stance on how the government plans to deal with dissent and public protests in future and explain to Sri Lankan society how they plan to prevent incidents like this from being repeated.”

police attack_2We publish below the statement in full;

Many of us issuing this statement today played an active role in the January 08, 2015 Presidential Election campaign and the subsequent General Election on 17 August. Ours was not a political involvement in the sense of playing party politics but a principled political intervention to change the culture of governance in this country. We had witnessed close to a decade of increasing authoritarianism, the shrinking of democratic space and a culture of violent suppression of dissent under the defeated Rajapaksa regime. We intervened because we wanted to see tangible change. We were, however, not so naïve as to expect a complete change in the political culture of the country and were therefore not so surprised at the appointment of a jumbo cabinet, or the nepotism that is creeping back into the functioning of the government, but we did have some minimum expectations from a new regime that campaigned almost exclusively on the theme of ‘good governance’ and a President and Prime Minister who repeatedly preach the mantra of democracy and good governance.

The events of 29/10/2015 where the police unleashed a brutal attack on a group of students seeking an opportunity to discuss systemic problems in the higher education sector has led us to seriously question whether the current regime is capable of meeting even our minimum expectations. What happened at Ward Place on 29/10/2015 is not an isolated incident. It appears to be a part of an emerging trend in how the incumbent government deals with dissent. There were several similar attacks on protesting students, people protesting on various issues such as lack of drinking water, etc., post January 08 – though none probably match the brutality of this attack which left at least one student seriously injured.

The Sri Lankan police force, conditioned by decades of use and abuse by the political establishment, is no stranger to violence. The violent police reaction to student dissent, therefore, is no surprise. However, we believe that the police does not and would not act the way they did on 29/10/2015 unless there was a ‘go ahead’ from the political establishment. There is then clearly an element within the present government that feels democratic dissent is a threat that must be suppressed swiftly and violently. The incidents of 29/10/2015and the images and the sounds of desperate students cringing in fear and being violently beaten, suggests that there is little to differentiate this regime from the previous one – after all, the previous regime took several years to arrive at its violent undemocratic destination while this regime seems to have achieved the same in the space of a few months.

We would like to remind the government that through its co-sponsored resolution at the UNHCR it has made an international and highly visible commitment to investigate historical human rights abuses in this country and that all eyes are on Sri Lanka at the moment. Various government representatives have been busy marketing Sri Lanka’s ‘good governance’ brand globally at various international forums. In such a context, is this how the government is attempting to prove its democratic credentials? If students protesting about the restructuring of an academic program and asking for more student welfare are treated in this way, what does that say about how the government will treat those who pose a more significant threat to it politically?

We, the undersigned, demand that the newly established National Police Commission immediately conduct an investigation in to this incident while appreciating the proactive action taken by the Human Rights Commission which has stated that it would conduct an investigation. At the same time, we stress the need to conduct these investigations impartially and make their findings public and that police officers, and those who issued orders to the police to act the way they did, are held publicly accountable. In addition, we demand that the President and Prime Minister reveal their stance on how the government plans to deal with dissent and public protests in future and explain to Sri Lankan society how they plan to prevent incidents like this from being repeated.

Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, University of Colombo
Prof. Arjuna Parakrama, University of Peradeniya
Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan, University of Peradeniya
Prof. Neloufer de Mel, University of Colombo
Prof. Asanga Thilakaratne, University of Colombo
Prof. Rohan Fernando, Open University of Sri Lanka
Prof. Priyan Dias, University of Moratuwa
Dr. Prabhath Jayasinghe, University of Colombo
Mr. P. Seneviratne, Open University of Sri Lanka
Mr. N.G.A Karunathilaka, University of kelaniya
Dr. Shantha Abeysinghe, Open University of Sri Lanka
Dr. Harshana Rambukwella, Open University of Sri Lanka
Dr. Harini Amrasuriya, Open University of Sri Lanka
Dileepa Witharana, Open University of Sri Lanka
Mihiri Jansz, Open University of Sri Lanka
Amali Wedagedara, Open University of Sri Lanka
Kaushalya Kumarasinghe, Open University of Sri Lanka
Hansini Gamlath
Roshan Manjula
Anushaya Collure
Dr. Shamala Kumar, University of Peradeniya
Dr Asha Abeyasekera,
Dr Pradeep Peiris, Social Scientists’ Association
Kumudini Samuel
Sarala Emmanuel
Dr Danesh Karunanayake, University of Peradeniya
Dr Shyamni Hettiarachchi
Dr Janaki Jayawardene, University of Colombo
Balasingham Skanthakumar
Athula Kumara Samarakoon, Open University of Sri Lanka
Dr Dhammika Herath, University of Peradeniya
Upul Wickramasingha, Education Renaissance Programme
Thiyagaraja Waradas, University of Colombo
Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, University of Colombo
Dr. Malathi de Alwis
Dr. Primal Fernando, University of Peradeniya
Dr. Jinasena Hewage, Ruhuna University
Dr. Rangika Halwatura, University of Moratuwa
Dr. A.W. Wijerathna
Ms. Sewwandi Alawaththa
Maheshika Sakalasuriya
Swasthika Arulingam
Parakrama Niriella, Theatre Director
Ruwanthie de Chickera, Playwright
Dr Sunil Wijesiriwardhane, Cultural Critic
Nadie Kammallaweera, Actor
Ananda Galappatti
Dr. S. Arivalazahan
Dr J.Sivagnanam, Eastern University of Sri Lanka
Chandragupta Thenuwara, University of Visual and Performing Arts
Anurudda Pradeep Karnasuriya, Sri Jayawardenapura University
Sithumini Rathnamalala, University of Moratuwa
Ahilan Kadirgamar
Kalpa Rajapakshe, University of Peradeniya
Sakuna M. Gamage
Niyanthini Kadirgamar
Ravi Tissera
Lakmali Hemachandra
Damith Chandimal
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre
Vijayananthan Thusandra
Harshana Nanayakkara, Lawyer
Dr Pavithra Kailasapathy, University of Colombo
Dr Kaushalya Perera, University of Kelaniya
Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Centre for Policy Alternatives
Ranmali Mirchandani, Dramatist
Marisa De Silva, Journalist
Jake Orloff, Dramatist
Kamani Jinadasa, Actor
Shanthi Dias
Prashani Rambukwella
Sampath samarakoon, Journalist
Kumari Kumaragamage, Writer
Chinthaka Rajapakse, Convenor, MONLAR
Brito Fernando, Convenor , Families of the Disappeared
Upul Kumarapperuma, Lawyer
N.V Nugawela
Luwie Ganeshathasan, Attorney-at-Law
Sandya Ekneligoda, Human rights activist
Chandana Pathirana, Open University of Sri Lanka
Jagath Siriwardena, Activist, 71 Sansadaya
Lal luxman, Political Activist
Ruki Fernando
Gayani Yapa, Open University of Sri Lanka

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Good cause but it seems this is being orchestrated by MR acolytes. Poor kis that had to suffer from this brutal attack, but has it being set up and orchestrated by MR and his side kicks for local and international media?

    • 1

      The police, law enforcement officials, are there to maintain law and order. Please tell me in what other way could they have dispersed these brats who were blocking the roads and barricading the very people who paid for their education. If the police had gone upto them and said Aney please can you disperse, would they have done so?

  • 7

    “we demand that the President and Prime Minister reveal their stance”

    Ha..ha! Good luck with that one.

    So far, they are all are tight-lipped. While the public is raging on social media.

    RW has requested a report as usual. Just like cunning Rajapassa. To deflate the public pressure. What a joke!

    Of all people, “The Report” is to come from Tilak Marapana. Of dubious Avant Guard fame. Marapana in return has requested a “Report” from the IGP. Who’s infamous DIGs are busy. Shamelessly putting a spin on the truth. As usual on national TV.

    We are ruled by “politicians” who bamboozle furious citizens. Time and again. By requesting endless, useless reports from each other. That is how we have rolled in Sri Lanka. Yes, since 1948.

    None of our leaders genuinely reflect the frustration people have felt with the corrupt, brutal, criminal & unjust Police force this country has had since 1948. And it keeps getting worse.

    This issue is too urgent and too important to be left to politicians. Citizens endure merciless beatings, torture and potential death from internal injuries at Police stations. All over SL. On a daily basis.

    Civil society must take over this fight to clean up the Police. And force the hand of our utterly corrupt political establishment. There is no other way.


    • 4

      Ben Hurling

      “Shamelessly putting a spin on the truth. As usual on national TV.”

      ASP Ruwan Gunasekara, the police spokesman (always men) rejected the claim that police forces regularly “torture and ill-treat criminal suspects in custody”.

      I believe him as I have always done so in the past several years.

      Lately you have been unkind to police, armed forces, politicians, ministers, PM, President, patriots, ……… institutions, …. accusing them of nepotism, corruption, brutality, ….. …

      I am beginning to suspect you being an agent of the West, RAW, Diaspora (working for Jamis Muthu Banda), LTTE rump, UNHRC, UN, Israel, ISIS, China, Pakistan, Seeman, Vaiko, Karunanithy, Sambandan, CV W, …..

      May I remind you that your foremost patriotic duty is to defend the nation.

  • 5

    Govt.s change but Police remains same ,

    Politicos in power needs Police brutality to crack down people protesting against govt’s own misdeeds by omission or commission.

    Same politicos condemn police & show crocodile tears when in opposition

    This is the truth,

    Politicos are dishonest bunch of animals

  • 3

    The group of teachers and other activities are belongs to change of ‘New Era’ since 2015 January 9th by that group elites whole hearted support for MS being elected President of SL.

    This is new change expected by them. Indeed this is New Line of politics of ‘Democracy’ that an introduce by UNP-RW, CBK and President of MS. The Public understand that teachers protest are verbal version of democracy, that not serve purposed enlarge and enrich real terms of democracy and Rights of Students.

    Your Teachers has not learn any lessons from UNP-RW?
    UNP is party of destroy democracy very beginning since 1948.
    It was anti-people’s outfit that incorrigible party of no body cannot change for ever.
    What ever reason that exist of UNP was/is main root cause and ills of our system of democracy….Sri lanka.
    Theses teachers having childless disorder of their mindset by misreading past and current politics after gain power in last 10 months by UNP and their SLFP allies.

    Killing is UNP democracy. War is politics of UNP. Ballot is only means to come to power, but gun is their real democracy. We called that is UNP-RW…. “Good Governances and Rule of law”.

    This simple truth politics cannot realized by so-called “intelligent community of elites” in Universities around the Island.

  • 12

    I applaud the police for beating the living shit out of the students turned political thugs. Students’ priority should be studies, especially when you’re enjoying free education at the expense of the hard-earned money of the poor people. Unlawful assembly, behaving in a violent manner and causing damage to public property are serious threats to law and order – even if done by students – that should be put down without delay by the authorities. What is the difference between these student thugs, the raving BBS maniacs and the Tamil Tiger mobs? It is in the interests of genuine students who want to pursue their education without any distraction to put an end to political interference and exploitation. Does ‘Jamis Uyangoda’ ring a bell to anyone?

  • 3

    I agree that ZERO TOLERANCE should be practiced regarding police brutality on students. They have no right to do this and the police officers involved and those who gave orders to do this should be punished severely according to the laws of the country

    Having said this, what right has the students got to block the roads and distract traffic. This inconveniences the road users who are not a party to this conflict. I have got caught in many traffic blocks owing to this so called demonstrations. I think the petition writers whom Dr. Uyangoda should also reprimand the students and ensure that the general public is not inconvenienced. Inconvenience caused to the general public is ignored by all parties concerned. We saw recently a picture of these students including Bhikkus damaging the wall. I think there is a limit to the rights of the students to hold the public ransom

  • 2

    A brave stance by the academics who signed this. But are they really brave? What chance would they have of continuing their stay in the campuses if they had not signed?

    In 1966 I was in the Peradeniya campus and saw how students become pawns in the hands of political manipulators. The skull of one of the students was badly damaged and a metal cover had to be put in addition to serious injuries to many other students. He lost ability to pursue studies and had to leave the University.

    When I asked one of the lenders how he can send them in to such danger, his answer was that sacrifices have to be made in the name of social progress. He could afford to talk like that, because he remained hiding in his room right through the riot making sure that he was not part of the sacrifice.

    This man is doing the same thing today as a well known politucal leader.

  • 2

    There are 5 sides to this story . The 5. parties are the Militant students ,the police brutality , the politicians OF the laŵ supports the MARA gang , the Yahapalanaya or against Yahapalanaya and the THREATS OF SINGHALA DIASPORA.

    This is a serious matter that should be investigated thoroughly to find the root cause . Who are the silent instigators stirring up ? Why there are self interested parties wanting to create hate and destruction in our country.

    Do they want the return of crime and remain as the PARIAH STATE?? Why The SLankans are short of self intelligence ?
    Did they have it ALL GOOD? Are they missing the white vans,? If it was all so good why country was not recognised well internationally then?
    The Singhala Diaspora too unable to grasp the reality of our people and the people who live in SL.
    No one should take SERIOUSLY OF THE SINGHALA DIASPORA’S Mentality.

    The SINGHALA DIASPORA’S mentality will lead the country of their BIRTH to destruction .

    THE TRUE CITIZENS AND SONS OF SRILANKA NEED TO BE AWARE TO STEER CLEAR FROM THE SIGHALA DIASPORA, Their main priority is having a nice holiday in the Paradise Isle. They’re not interested in our country nor the progress of our country.

    The uneducated talking politics is LAUGHABLE. THAT IS EXACLY WHAT GOES ON .NOT GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY.

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