13 July, 2024


Rise Against State Repression: A Call To The People

2022 has seen the most dramatic uprising of people against the government’s tyrannical rule since independence. Amidst a devastating economic crisis, the people raised their voices against corruption, misrule and economic mismanagement, demanding greater democracy. Instead of heeding the people’s call for change in the political culture and economic accountability, the government has responded with repression. The state’s crackdown on protesters is intended to prevent the expression of public dissatisfaction with the administration, as well as the austerity measures it has imposed which are causing tremendous hardship and suffering.

We, the undersigned, call on the government to acknowledge the sovereignty of the people, to cease its persecution of protestors, and ensure the civil, political and economic rights of all citizens, especially of marginalised and vulnerable communities. The multiple, interconnected political and economic crises confronting us now cannot be resolved through a move towards greater authoritarianism but by the people’s continued involvement in the democratic space that has been created and by an administration willing to engage with its citizens.

The Security State

From its inception, state security and its repressive arms were key to the functioning of the Sri Lankan postcolonial state. The insurgencies in the south and the rise of militancy in the north and east, the protracted war that lasted almost 30 years, were used to legitimise the repressive arms of the state. The all-powerful executive presidency (1978) compounded matters by densely concentrating executive powers in one office, enabling swift authorisation of questionable laws and actions.

In 1979, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was introduced, giving the government sweeping powers to arrest anyone without a warrant on the hazy grounds of their engaging in “unlawful activities” and detain them for up to 18 months without being produced before a court, and often incarcerating them for decades without a fair trial. Presented, debated and enacted in parliament within a single day, the PTA was a “temporary” measure to purportedly stem the tide of Tamil militancy. It was complemented by several other organised forms of repression. In addition to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), units like the police Special Task Force (STF), and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), paved the way for increased securitisation and militarisation of the state. In the long years of the war and unrest, militarisation seeped into the fabric of society.

Post War and Post Easter Bombings

The template for what we see today was shaped during the post-war years as well, as the state continued to target minorities. Instead of pursuing genuine reconciliation and power-sharing, the state reinforced its military apparatus in the north and east. This has allowed the retention of High Security Zones, preventing people from returning to their homes and livelihoods, and enabled land grabbing that is rationalised in the name of security or development. In the aftermath of the Easter bombings of April 2019, in which some 270 people lost their lives, anti-terror campaigns targeted Muslim youth. Terror and fear seized the Muslim community as they came under attack by the repressive arms of state security. The PTA was to arbitrarily arrest and confine persons known and unknown, on very flimsy charges. The arrest and detention of Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaf Jazeem are only two cases in point of how the PTA is used in a gross violation of all concerns of justice. 

An earlier development in this regard has drawn insufficient public attention. In compliance with UN Security Council Resolution No. 1373 calling on member states to take measures to curb terrorist activity, the Sri Lankan state drew up a list of names in 2020, identifying 300-odd persons as terror suspects. The overwhelming majority of those named in the list are Muslim and Tamil. Some were already behind bars during the period in which they are suspected of having engaged in suspicious activity. Persons included in the list undergo untold difficulties: they no longer enjoy access to their financial assets and have no indication of when they may expect to have such access again. They cannot seek legal redress because their financial assets are barred to them. They have trouble securing or holding on to employment due to the disrepute of being included in the list. They live under constant surveillance, with the threat of potential punitive measures despite the absence of any evidence of misconduct. 

Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Bill is the most recent in a series of laws that seek to sanction repression by the state and must not be viewed in isolation, but in the totality of a process we understand as securitisation of the state. The broad reach of the Bill allows for sending into compulsory detention “drug dependent persons, ex-combatants, members of violent extremist groups and any other group of persons” without necessarily citing sufficient cause for such action. 

Even though the Supreme Court has ruled that “certain provisions” of the Bill are unconstitutional such as the reference to ‘ex-combatants’ and ‘any other persons’, the criminalisation of drug dependency that seems to be considered unproblematic suggests that the law itself should not be accepted without questioning. Its draconian features allow virtually any person to be sent into detention and it does not specify the procedure by which claims of drug abuse, past involvement in armed activity, and violent extremism may be reasonably established. It leaves space for the criminalisation of democratic activism that has characterised our recent past. The Bill in its entirety should be struck down.

The Current Moment of Repression

Today, person after person is being arrested and detained. The lens of surveillance has dramatically turned to those who are deemed central to the people’s movement of the Aragalaya. Those who have stood up to state violence, including students, are being picked off the streets and sent away, into the dark corners of detention.

We are staring into the gaping mouth of a police state. We have to reclaim our voice, and rise against all acts of repression and all legal manoeuvres that are designed to silence dissent, resistance and democratic action. This is the task at hand, where we citizens must reclaim the democratic space to put an end to authoritarian repression. It is through democratic participation, through dialogue, protests and the vote, that the tremendous economic and political crisis can be addressed in the interests of all the people of Sri Lanka.       


  1. Ranil Abayasekara, formerly University of Peradeniya
  2. Udari Abeyasinghe, University of Peradeniya
  3. Asha L. Abeyasekera, formerly University of Colombo
  4. M.M. Alikhan, University of Peradeniya
  5. Liyanage Amarakeerthi, University of Peradeniya
  6. Fazeeha Azmi, M. I., University of Peradeniya
  7. Crystal Baines. formerly, University of Colombo
  8. Navaratne Banda  Formerly University of Peradeniya
  9. Visakesa Chandrasekaram, University of Colombo
  10. Erandika de Silva, University of Jaffna
  11. Nadeesh De Silva, the Open University of Sri Lanka
  12. Nirmal Dewasiri, University of Colombo
  13. Kanchuka Dharmasiri, University of Peradeniya
  14. Priyan Dias, Emeritus Professor, University of Moratuwa
  15. Avanka Fernando, University of Colombo
  16. Priyantha Fonseka, University of Peradeniya
  17. Savitri Goonesekere, Emeritus Professor, University of Colombo
  18. Camena Guneratne, Open University of Sri Lanka
  19. Dileni Gunewardena, University of Peradeniya
  20. Farzana Haniffa, University of Colombo 
  21. Shyamani Hettiarachchi, University of Kelaniya
  22. Gayathri Hewagama, Visiting Lecturer, University of Peradeniya
  23. Charudaththe B. Illangasinghe, University of the Visual and Performing Arts
  24. Prabhath Jayasinghe, University of Colombo
  25. Theshani Jayasooriya, University of Peradeniya
  26. M. W. A. P. Jayatilaka, Retired, University of Peradeniya
  27. Barana Jayawardana, University of Peradeniya
  28. Pavithra Jayawardena, University of Colombo
  29. Ahilan Kadirgamar, University of Jaffna
  30. Anushka Kahandagamage, formerly University of Colombo
  31. Pavithra Kailasapathy, University of Colombo
  32. Maduranga Kalugampitiya, University of Peradeniya
  33. A. K. Karunarathne, University of Peradeniya
  34. Madara Karunarathne, University of Peradeniya
  35. Chulani Kodikara, Visiting Lecturer, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo
  36. Pradeepa Korale Gedara, University of Peradeniya
  37. Savitri Nimal Kumar, University of Peradeniya
  38. Ramya Kumar, University of Jaffna
  39. Shamala Kumar, University of Peradeniya
  40. Vijaya Kumar, Emeritus Professor, University of Peradeniya
  41. Amal Kumarage, University of Moratuwa
  42. Aminda Lakmal, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
  43. Rohan Laksiri, University of Ruhuna
  44. Abdul Haq Lareena, Sabaragamuwa University
  45. Hasini Lecamwasam, University of Peradeniya
  46. Kamala Liyanage, Professor Emerita, University of Peradeniya
  47. Nethmie Liyanage, University of Peradeniya
  48. Sachini Marasinghe, University of Peradeniya
  49. Tharinda Mallawaarachchi, University of Colombo
  50. Sudesh Mantillake, University of Peradeniya
  51. Prabha Manuratne, University of Kelaniya
  52. Mahim Mendis, Open University of Sri Lanka
  53. Rumala Morel,  University of Peradeniya
  54. Sitralega Maunaguru, retired formerly Eastern University of Sri Lanka
  55. Kethakie Nagahawatte, University of Colombo
  56. Sabreena Niles, University of Kelaniya
  57. M. A. Nuhman, formerly University of Jaffna
  58. Gananath Obeyesekere, formerly University of Peradeniya
  59. Ranjini Obeyesekere, formerly University of Peradeniya
  60. Arjuna Parakrama, University of Peradeniya
  61. Sasinindu Patabendige, University of Jaffna
  62. Pradeep Peiris, University of Colombo
  63. Kaushalya Perera, University of Colombo 
  64. Nicola Perera, University of Colombo
  65. Ramindu Perera, The Open University of Sri Lanka
  66. Ruhanie Perera, University of Colombo
  67. Sampath Rajapaksa, University of Kelaniya
  68. Ramesh Ramasamy, University of Peradeniya 
  69. Harshana Rambukwella, The Open University of Sri Lanka
  70. Rajitha Ranasinghe, University of Peradeniya
  71. Rupika Subashini Rajakaruna, University of Peradeniya
  72. Aruni Samarakoon, University of Ruhuna
  73. Athula Siri Samarakoon, The Open University of Sri Lanka
  74. Dinesha Samararatne, University of Colombo
  75. Unnathi Samaraweera, University of Colombo
  76. T. Sanathanan, University of Jaffna
  77. Samitha Senanayake, formerly University of Peradeniya
  78. Kalana Senaratne, University of Peradeniya
  79. Anusha Sivalingam, University of Colombo
  80. H. Sriyananda, Emeritus Professor, the Open University of Sri Lanka
  81. Sivamohan Sumathy, University of Peradeniya
  82. Hiniduma Sunil Senavi, University of Sabaragamuwa
  83. Esther Surenthiraraj, University of Colombo
  84. V. Thevanesam, Emeritus Professor, University of Peradeniya
  85. Dayapala Thiranagama, formerly University of Kelaniya
  86. Mahendran Thiruvarangan, University of Jaffna
  87. Deepika Udagama, University of Peradeniya
  88. Ramila Usoof, University of Peradeniya
  89. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Professor Emeritus in Political Science, University of Colombo
  90. Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, Open University of Sri Lanka
  91. Ruvan Weerasinghe, University of Colombo
  92. Nira Wickramasinghe, formerly, University of Colombo
  93. Ranjit Wijekoon, formerly University of Peradeniya
  94. Dinuka Wijetunga, University of Colombo
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Latest comments

  • 15

    This is a struggled to death between the ruling-class and their bourgeoisie lackeys, Native et al ………. and the proletariat.

    Death to the ruling-class and their bourgeoisie lackeys.

    Let a thousand flowers bloom – Mao, while resting on the bosoms of jumping for joy 7 concubine young lasses ……. Death to the old emperor Puyi ……. in with the new Mao.

    And the world goes round and round and round and round ……. makes people dizzy ……. starts believing in voodoo

    I’ve medicine to sell ……. wanna buy? …….. Native, you look sick boy ……….

    • 3

      Why no call for Economic Rights and Debt Cancellation and Debt Justice here from the IMF and Paris Club and the so-called International Community?!
      Are these NED funded groups and academics unable to make Economic Analysis and Demands? Should they not call for
      1) Economic Rights and Justice inseperable from Political Rights
      2) US Secretary for South Asia Donald Lu said that the “Force” backs Ranil Rajapakse and Ranil in turn has invoked the Vietnam US backed Dictator Dinh Diem!
      Is this not Human Rights hypocrisy by foreign funded Civil society hacktivists and Human Rights whores?!!

    • 5

      1/ If one can think of saving our ignorant and naive people by means of Gurukam, Astrology and other powers, the vague facts of the voter in this country will automatically turn to facts. If people’s awareness is enhanced by real information and statistics and facts, they automatically become powerful voters. This is a long awaiting chain reaction.

      2/The mainstream media must first understand the danger facing our people. Demagogues like RAJPKSSHES should be marginalized by the Sri Lankan media.
      . Mass media is believed to be the 4th most powerful pillar of a country/nation. Unfortunately, our mainstream TV media is a scam that spreads from one to the other.

      • 5

        3/Even social media TV channels, I bet you, most of them are abusing “sorcery”, “witchcraft” and other tricks to survive today’s dollars. Not only that, Sepal Amarasinghe is also abusing the fault of the stupid majority of this country. The behavior of the stupid majority is capricious. They don’t have enough brains to see it properly. They are suffering from economic difficulties today.
        4/ That is where we all need to work. Only then will we see “reliable and competent, less corrupt or free, representatives of the people” in the future parliament.

        5/Sinhala Buddhism is not true Buddhism, it is disguised Hindu beliefs explained by HT. Sources say that there are more than 30,000 Sinhala Buddhist monks in this country. Venerable monks, many prominent monks in the community should first receive education. Buddhist and Sinhalese society allowed them to be eternal fools in the place given to them. Also, the responses of their fellow monks to the dangerous problems they cause to the society are constantly ignored by the higher chapter monks.

    • 24

      To: Signatories of above “Call To The People”

      The signatories (all professionals) of the above “Call To The People” are thanked for the excellent analysis of the BACKGROUND leading to the current ‘State Repression’. What is GLARINGLY missing in the “Call” are:

      1) Role of PROFESSIONALS who could blow the whistle on corruption and abuse of power.

      2) Are not auditors/chartered accountants the first and last line of defense against any form of financial corruption?

      3) Does not “We have to reclaim our voice, and rise against all acts of repression and all legal manoeuvres that are designed to silence dissent, resistance and democratic action.” imply the unsavory role of legal professionals?

      4) The corrosive link between politicians/professionals/private sector is best exemplified by the recent statement of business chambers led by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to “call off mass protests” planned for 2 November. Believe it or not, the spokesman was Ernst & Young ‘Senior Partner and Head of Tax’ (Duminda Hulangamuwa) who is also Vice Chairman of CCC.

      (continued below)

      • 24

        To: Signatories of above “Call To The People”

        5) How can an auditor be INDEPENDENT when coalescing with business chambers? Why is this not a problem to anyone?

        6) Although the oft-repeated “It is through democratic participation, through dialogue, protests and the vote, that the tremendous economic and political crisis can be addressed in the interests of all the people of Sri Lanka.” is valid, should we not get out of our ‘COMFORT’ zone and make suggestion/s for a LEADERSHIP plan for ALTERNATE governance that is MARKETABLE? Many of the signatories have the CREDIBILITY to do this.

        7) Before attempting to straighten-out politicians, should not the searchlight be directed at our professionals? Why are everyone including ‘Aragalaya’ avoiding this?

        Amrit Muttukumaru

    • 6

      nimal fernando

      ” Mao, while resting on the bosoms of jumping for joy 7 concubine young lasses “

      Did Mao do that?
      You do not have any proof.
      This is western propaganda.
      Do you have any video proof?
      Please send it to SJ.

      “Native, you look sick boy”

      Did you mean I was cool?

      • 0

        Not yet found the medical assistance you sought?
        Sorry about that.
        Take care, be calm.
        Best wishes.

  • 4

    ok . when people do not have anything to eat these 94 will pool their enormous resources and feed them.

    • 4


      Why do you think people will expect these scholars to feed them.
      The people have been voting for the crooks and the murderers therefore they should force the elected members to feed them.

      Why are you trying to help the crooks and murderers avoid their responsibilities?
      What is in it for you?

      What they are doing is to cleanse the state so that people need not to suffer because of the elected crooks. In a way people elected them in the first place.

  • 16

    The sinhala land is spending billions the biggest budget item on a USELESS armed forces that will be unable to withstand an attack from an external army. The money should be DIRECTED TOWARDS social welfare and education to ensure that sinhala land females are not exported / involved due to poverty ie involuntarily and by education reduce voluntary – know the consequences of attending to the best interests per of foreign males their appendages. Recent reports state that even sinhala diplomats involved in these nefarious activities using sinhala land females . Sinhala land reports say that the majority of exported sinhala inhabitants have no qualifications. This would indicate that these persons are mainly involved in positions focussed on personally managing the cleaning of ablution blocks. Like philipino s in south east asia, sinhala land is in the process of being better known as an exporter of ablution cleaners!,

  • 16

    The highest priority is to pull the people out of the poverty stricken state. The armed forces were strengthened as impenetrable shield to protect the looters of the public coffers. The strength of the armed forces must be reduced by half and then divert those resources to increase food production.

  • 3

    Somebody is waking up. A faint ray in the horizon of distant dawn!

    Hindu religion talks about ” Varnashrama-dharma”. The way implemented by that is opposed by the majority (including me). But the fundamentals of it are important. Every class voluntarily assumes its proper role and plays that part for the survival and well-being of society. Buddhism has two classes. Monks, who advise the King and the subjects on the proper conduct (personal behaviors – Soul side). They are never expected to go above. and interfere in the administration. Educated ministers & wise must guide the king on his administration (Political side). In Langkang, the Sinhala Buddhist Bald heads were bending the governments to their personal gains and enjoyments. So, they took the sword to annihilate Tamils. Learned ones started to stretch their hands to thrives and crooks for their trickling downs. So, without anybody to guide the ignorant mass, the country quickly slipped and went to the hands of dogs. Time for the educated and the wise to take their role into their hands, first. A voluntary duty system like “Varnashrama-dharma” should be revitalized. But the class and their duty lines have to be redrawn in the light of modern principles, Equality, Ahimsa. Then only society will be united and progressive. Church and Government are two independent units- US constitution.

    • 12

      No matter how you try to use grammar to sugarcoat the ugly truth about the dirtiness of the caste system, you are just wasting your time. It is something far worst than racism because it divides and dismantles the very fabric of society.
      I am not saying that this is exclusively a Tamil thing or a Hindu thing. This is a general thing common to the entire Asian subcontinent.
      The saddest thing about it is that one’s own community has first and foremost trampled upon you before you come out and face another ethnic group, just because they have deemed one a low cast, despite the person’s actual capabilities. The converse is also true, the most worthless person will be unduly given the highest respect and position, while that guy may be a dud.
      This is something not common in the western world. Therefore we run to western countries in search of equity. Equity that our own people have robbed us of, thanks to some archaic traditions.
      We need to change, and change will follow us. This is a simple truth.

  • 12

    ALL we need is for Anura and/or Sajith, to break through the police barricades, brave the batons, Storm the Parliament, and Kick Out the rulers! If they can’t do that, they are useless as reformers of the land. All they are doing is showing personal power in niche settings.

    They need to do the hard work in the face of consecutive corrupt governments experimenting with money-of-the-hardworking-suffering masses. These consecutive governments torture and kill the suffering people when their ambitious drive towards unnatural capitalism for the Motherland that never takes off. Decade after decade of shame, and they STILL pursue it!

    Once they go show courage and power by going through those barricades, the police will have no option than to allow the rights of the people to prevail. Otherwise Anura and/or Sajith,….the bayagullas!,….. need to stop wasting the time and money of the Masses themselves, with fake convention upon convention, and fake rhetoric upon rhetoric.

    • 4

      Really, dear RTF,
      “ALL we need …….!” Its a helluva lot, with Ranil not caring how many are killed.

      [Edited out]
      I wonder what your flames, Native, and nimal will say about your suggesting that AKD could turn out to be “a bayagulla”. But are you now ogling oc? He may be happy that you are casting aspersions on Anura.
      AKD shouldn’t take unnecessary risks. If he is turned into a corpse he’s going to be no use to anybody.
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela


      • 6

        “ALL we need …….!” Its a helluva lot, with Ranil not caring how many are killed.”
        So, how many exactly have been killed? Is it more than the number who died in petrol or gas queues?
        Let’s go easy on the sensationalism, shall we?

        • 3


          Sri Lanka is hanging on by a single hair.
          The immature Sajith and Anura try their best to break the silence and grab power by hook or by crook.

          There is no substance in Sajith’s stories. Anura speaks well. But I don’t know if he’ll work with Aladdin’s wonder lamp on the assumption that he’ll accept more money than he has now.
          If more meetings are disrupted in the coming days, the surge in tourists will be alarming. People know that nobody but Ranil and CBK can save the country at this critical time. They are well and closely connected with the world powerful rich nations.

          Not being able to see anything beyond that, those who call themselves Buddha are silent.

          In my opinion, the current government should be given enough time to find solutions to the current crisis in order to revive the economy to some extent so that the people can be assured of essential goods for a while.

          Then you can choose the one you like. Same voters will bring same idiots into power if elections would be held. Elections have made no wonders to this country.

          Hareen, Manosh and Kanchana are well aware of the danger before the people.

          • 2


            People only know that Ranil knows who all the crooks are, and knows how to use crookery to get 1% back from the 99% coolly taken away from the Motherland by the famous Lankan “entrepreneurs.” And he will not get the money-of-the-hardworking-suffering-masses back for them, but keep it for perpetual rolling on international markets…..one or two sky-scrapers will be built so the masses can say “awww.” “Say aww, or go to prison to be tortured, is the motto.”

            Change is what is needed! Outright, irrefutable, tangible, permanent, honorable, respectable, and enduring!

            • 0

              Thank you;
              The executive presidential system operates in the Parliament of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it cannot be expected that the Prime Minister should have fulfilled it more than the Executive President. So I don’t agree with anyone attacking RW for his failures in the past as a 6-time PM.

              However, this time is an exception because he is either legitimate or illegitimate. If he misses the bus, no one will get away with blaming him. However, in the present context his situation is like walking in a cactus field.
              The final decision rests with the Executive President. If you look at it this time, if Ranil doesn’t do it, it’s over. Since we have not had the chance to try out JVP yet, there is no leader who can do that job. if so, Srilankens will have to face the unexpected hardships.
              2015 and 2020 Janatha Vimukti Peramuna candidates were rejected because of the fault of the people. Janatha Vimukti Peramuna won dozens of seats in the Parliament in the last two sessions. My wish is that people get some wisdom at least now.
              The donkey-dominant nation should have thought of that.


              • 1

                I am happy to tell you today that RW is the first person to repeatedly attack the Pinguttaya community in Parliament these days. That discourse should be continued until separate courts are implemented for Sanga-Lay crimes in this country. It has always stopped until now. In retrospect, the manner in which Atthana Menthana Natana Ratana planted his “fairy tale” and attacked that DrSafi, individually should be subjected to deep scrutiny again and again: If I were Dr Safi, I would go to UNO and other institutions. A cruel conspiracy against dignity and respect of citizen rights may demand justice.

                Some violent monks will misinterpret RW’s sharp criticism to create a new racial wave. However we know pretty well that the major factor in the collapse of Sri Lankan politics is the unnecessary interference of buddhist clergy in politics and civil activities.

        • 2

          “AKD shouldn’t take unnecessary risks. If he is turned into a corpse he’s going to be no use to anybody.”
          He will be VERY useful as a corpse. Otherwise known as a martyr, to be cano ized and mourned ad infinitum in the middle of busy streets. Just like Wasantha Mudalige. But the powers that be aren’t stupid enough to fall for that.

      • 4


        AKD is much better leader than the ones JVP had before him.
        He is constrained by his party’s outdated “Sinhala/Buddhist Marxism” and by his party old guards.

        He has to come out clean, chose liberalism and give everyone equal opportunity.
        First the island must produce, people should work hard and earn, then the nation can decide how it should redistribute the income, wealth, …

        Let SJ suggest how best to redistribute income however he should be banned from advocating the stupid idea of achieving self sufficiency in producing everything from A to Z like his old flame the weeping widow.

    • 2

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

      For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 2

    ………..We are staring into the gaping mouth of a Police State………..

    Time is ripe to call off the bluff of Ranil Rajapakse whose threat to unleash the full force of the Security apparatus would also see him at Home resting on his laurels……….

  • 1

    In other news.

    “During the inquiry into two female cops being manhandled by a senior police officer during a protest earlier this month, 1,200 female police officers had reportedly stated “in one voice” that such occurrences are common in their line of work and not a cause for concern, highly-placed sources told The Morning.”

    What a slave society. Sad.

  • 1

    Not just simply a police state which can be decimated by a foreign army easily, but a state where the robber family is totally flattened so as not to touch a single dollar belonging to citizens. Hang them if these no jobbers continue as robbers.

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