By Colombo Telegraph –
A group of people who have identified themselves as members of the Ministry of Defense has visited the neighbourhood of the President of the University Teachers Union (FUTA), Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri two days ago and have made inquiries about him and his family which appears to be a clear attempt to intimidate him. Yesterday night an unidentified Jeep without proper licence plate has been seen parked near his residence. Today a complaint has been lodged at the Mahargama Police station regarding this matter. FUTA intends to hold a media meeting tomorrow to notify the press regarding this new development which is of great concern to FUTA. The media meeting will be held tomorrow 22nd June at 10:00 am at the National Library Services Auditorium on Independence Avenue.
Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri is one of the few outspoken intellectuals who criticises Sri Lankan government regarding it’s unlawful activities. Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri is the only university teacher who criticised Secretary to the Ministry of Defence regarding abduction and whitvanning. Speaking about abduction of Prema Kumara Gunarathnam and Dimutu Attigala he said “ the fist accused is the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, there is no Secretary of Defence post in Sri Lanka it’s a lie. He is just another secretary to a Ministry. There are lots of other secretaries like him, the only difference is, he is a sibling of the President, he must be questioned. …..” ( watch 6.20 mins in the video below)
Meanwhile in a letter written to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and N.R. Illangakoon, the Inspector General of Police, Professor Asanga Tilakaratne, President of the AFTU-CU stated: “It has been brought to our notice that a group of men claiming to be from the Ministry of Defence have been behaving suspiciously within the neighbourhood of the secretary of Arts Faculty Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith on June 19, 2012. They have questioned neighbours regarding Dr. Dewasiri’s movement’s and details regarding his family. Dr. Dewasiri has lodged a complaint with this regard at the Maharagama Police Station on 21.06.2012. We are deeply concerned about this and request you to immediately launch an investigation into this matter.”
The University Teachers Union has been working to improve the livelihoods of university teachers, notably by campaigning for wage increases and improved working conditions. The Minister of Higher Education, the Hon. S.B. Dissanayake, has publicly opposed these efforts.
Trade unionists and political activists who campaign for wage increases and the improvement of working conditions, are frequently threatened, and even, physically attacked. The forced disappearances of unionists and activists who disagree with government officials are a regular occurrence in Sri Lanka. Indeed, last week, a shooting in a small meeting of the JVP led to the deaths of two people.