3 December, 2022

Blog

Sri Lanka: Authorities’ Crackdown On Protest Rights Must End: Amnesty International

The Sri Lankan authorities have fiercely clamped down on protests and demonized protesters during a period of economic crisis and hardship in the country, Amnesty International said in a new digest released today.

The briefing, Penalized for Protesting: Sri Lanka’s crackdown on protestors, details how the authorities have failed to protect peaceful protesters and resorted to excessive use of force, deploying the military to police protests and carrying out reprisals against protestors while also demonizing those who exercise their protest rights peacefully.

“Over the last few months, Sri Lanka has seen widespread protests over the worst economic crisis in the country’s post-independence history. People have the right to express discontent peacefully and the state has an obligation to facilitate this right but the Sri Lankan authorities have repeatedly and unrelentingly stifled the voice of the people,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Director.

“The new government in Sri Lanka has continued resorting to the unlawful use of force, intimidation and harassment to subdue protestors, sending a chilling message to the people of Sri Lanka that there is no room for dissent. The right to freedom of peaceful assembly is a keystone of any rights respecting society. It must be respected and protected.”

It must be noted that there have been some incidents of violence during protests since the protest movement began in February 2022. While these protests cannot be deemed as peaceful, the response by the authorities to such protest must still comply with human rights laws and standards.

Tear gas, water cannons — and live ammunition

Since the protests began five months ago, the police and armed forces have routinely misused tear gas and water cannons against largely peaceful protesters. On two occasions, security forces fired live ammunition at protesters, killing at least one person in Rambukkana on 19 April.

This unlawful use of force was also witnessed in other key incidents demonstrating the government’s refusal to facilitate the right to peaceful assembly, despite their obligations under international human rights laws and standards.

Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe came into power on 21 July, over 140 protesters have been arrested, while a further 18 have been issued travel bans. Furthermore, Members of Parliament and the President have repeatedly described protesters as “terrorists”. President Wickremesinghe, meanwhile, also labelled protesters as “fascists” amid a broader pattern of demonizing the protest movement. The authorities have taken this one step further by weaponizing the draconian anti-terror law Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to arrest three protesters. Amnesty International has, in the past, documented the use of the draconian PTA by the authorities to target, and harass minorities, activists, journalists and critical voices. The PTA is in violation of international human rights law and must be repealed.

‘They want me in jail’

Since 2 April, the authorities have arrested some people in a manner that flouts due process. Security forces did not produce official identification or produce arrest warrants or adequately explain the reason for arrests. Certain individuals were taken away and held for several hours at undisclosed locations. On these occasions, no confirmation of arrest was issued, nor were detainees given the opportunity to inform their relatives, friends or lawyers of their whereabouts.

One of the protestors told Amnesty International: “I’m still worried that they are trying to arrest me and accuse me of things I have not committed, because they want me in jail.”

These arrests, which constituted unlawful deprivation of liberty, should immediately be stopped and the authorities must carry out arrests in keeping with their obligations under the international law and standards, including the ICCPR which prohibits arbitrary detention and protects the right to liberty and security of person. The authorities must also end their use of Emergency Regulations, which give sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces to search and make arrests without due process safeguards and have been shown to flout international human rights law.

‘The state does not stand on the side of the people’

Another protestor, who suffered repeated harassment at the hands of the authorities, told Amnesty International: “Many of us got travel bans, and surveillance and tear gas attacks and baton charged and, at times, court orders and imprisonment… The state is always protecting and only defending political power and does not stand on the side of the people.”

Amnesty International calls on the Sri Lankan authorities to drop all charges against those protesters who were participating peacefully in so called “unlawful assemblies”. All those facing such charges must be immediately released. The authorities must also hold prompt, transparent and impartial investigations into all allegations of attacks on peaceful protesters, with support from international observers.

“The relentless repression of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, movement and expression speaks to Sri Lanka’s legacy of suppressing dissent. Given the immense and historic support for the peaceful protest movement, the Sri Lankan authorities should change course and immediately end their suppression of people’s right to protest,” said Yamini Mishra.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 7
    2

    Amnesty. Just venting hot air definitely would not help the suffering masses. You should tell the IMF and the benevolent donors to ensure that they do not end up in the hands of the corrupt political leaders who in the first place pushed the country into this abyss. You should try to make sure that what ever aid the country receives reaches the real deserving people.

    • 6
      0

      h,
      I wonder if you could inform the AI of the line of communication for the IMF to fulfil your request..

    • 4
      1

      “You should try to make sure that what ever aid the country receives reaches the real deserving people.”
      IMF is not giving aid, it is a loan and further help to borrow more from others which is to safeguard the corrupted politicians from the poor people who is a barrier for them.

  • 4
    1

    Amnesty international may warn or gives opinions but our super thaddias knows they can’t take actions, IMF needs house in order, but it’s all in mess ,needs biggest brain surgeons to fix the super 69

    • 3
      3

      AI cannot even warn. It can only appeal or at worst denounce.
      *
      “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”― Ludwig Wittgenstein

      • 1
        1

        These English pundits should have so greatful had the opportunity to have good education have their surname while practicing their beliefs
        We are trpical Hindu family but my father studied in English medium at Manipay Green Memorial, he was good at Tamil Sinhalese may be Latin (Don’t know why)his perception was we may follow.

        But sadly Oxbridge thick head brought this super sinhala only.
        Look at the state we are in now

        Feb 4 what is to celebrate, force the school children from any coroners and cramped them in to the buses and do parades in hot sun to these belly thaddias, then the arm forces do their balti gives impressions that they fought over British and got freedom
        They brought the tea saplings along with labourers, even now it’s sells as Ceylon tea not by Surthi Lanka

      • 4
        0

        cugan

        How about Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
        Would that work?

        • 0
          0

          NV
          Yes that.for progressing countries but.we SL we are going back towards 2500 bullock carts,wood fire,2 or 3 days a week schools, AK47,T56 ,micheettiies swords take your law on your own

  • 3
    1

    These English pundits should have so greatful had the opportunity to have good education have their surname while practicing their beliefs
    We are trpical Hindu family but my father studied in English medium at Manipay Green Memorial, he was good at Tamil Sinhalese may be Latin (Don’t know why)his perception was we may follow.

    But sadly Oxbridge thick head brought this super sinhala only.
    Look at the state we are in now

    Feb 4 what is to celebrate, force the school children from any coroners and cramped them in to the buses and do parades in hot sun to these belly thaddias, then the arm forces do their balti gives impressions that they fought over British and got freedom
    They brought the tea saplings along with labourers, even now it’s sells as Ceylon tea not by Surthi Lanka

    • 3
      3

      Dear cugan,
      .
      It may be that I’m also an “English pundit” since teaching English is almost the only job I’ve ever done.
      .
      Because of that, I know how difficult it is for anybody to learn a language, and I have the feeling that English poses more problems than other languages. Even without knowing dozens of languages (I know only English and Sinhala), I realise that English is a difficult language. That one realises when one studies, in Linguistics, the nature of languages.
      .
      Please go here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/an-english-language-primer-focused-on-sri-lanka-raising-alarm-bells-on-sri-lankan-english/
      .
      No one really knows what to do about this sad situation where a knowledge of English is actually over-stressed. Don’t blame it all on SWRDB. He knew how much non-users of English (the majority in 1948) suffered, and realised that dethroning it would win him votes.
      .
      “English” is a huge problem for even most Sinhalese, but I know that my Sinhalese people have turned “Language” into an even bigger problem for all Tamils. Your English is better than average – can improve!

      .

      • 0
        0

        SM
        Dont know why from pre school we being singing “rain rain go away”without knowing what it’s means
        But we rely on farming on raining

  • 1
    0

    After the 224 brought the country to bankruptsy the quick action is suppression those who try to struggle with hunger and when brought to notice of Government reply is – Tear gas, water cannons — and live ammunition – Ranil old politics.

    Moral bankruptcy occurs when development supersedes the family in political practices of a great nation of people and to cover the check and balance when a politician resorts to the racist card, it’s a sure sign of is the fast-track to poverty. Family Authorisms failure to respect the society’s recognition of the sanctity of human life.

  • 1
    0

    As long as the present President is only complying with the orders of Mahinda Rajapaksa since he has no elected members in the Parliament, he cannot execute anything of his own. Out of 134 supporting Members over 130 of them are from Mahinda’s party, who himself resigned from Premier, followed by all his family members including Gota former President, who escaped from the country due to island-wide protests by the majority of the citizens. Ranil is a scape coat who runs the country with the terrorist act (PTA ) arresting Protesters and terrorizing public freedom and normalcy.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.