Responding to the brutal attack by the armed forces on Thursday (1st August) at Weliweriya, killing and injuring unarmed civilians demanding uncontaminated water, the Lawyers Collective strongly condemns the Government’s continuous ferocity against peaceful protesters. The Government has displayed total disrespect to the constitutional guarantees on civil liberties of its own citizens. Evidence clearly establishes that deplorable levels of force including live bullets were used on the unarmed villagers. The assailants also assaulted journalists and grabbed their cameras by force when they were doing their job covering the event. Lawyers Collective urges stern actions against those responsible for ordering and carrying out this brutal attack.
The legal fraternity urges the Government to control its military and ensure that they are used for legitimate purposes only. In a constitutional democracy, attacking peaceful unarmed protesters or disrupting legitimate civil activities of the citizens is not a legitimate objective of the Armed Forces or the law enforcement authorities.
We have noted with regret that the functions of the police are increasingly being usurped by the military. The lawyers are shocked but not at all surprised with the dubious post-event pronouncements of the State media and Government politicians to justify the attack on civilians. The Government has been also known to falsely brand the dissenting voices as “terrorists, funded by foreign elements etc” and we urge public not to be misled by such false propaganda. The Lawyers Collective, while standing by the victims and their families, will take whatever action is possible within the legal framework to ensure justice for them.