A major opposition demonstration against the violence unleashed on unarmed protestors in Weliweriya earlier this month took an unusual turn when UNP members leading the demonstration decided to defy a court order and stage a march down Galle Road.
The Enough is Enough rally garnered significant traction in the past week, leading police to go to court this morning to request a court order to block the demonstration.
A force of about 350 riot policemen were deployed to marshall protestors.
Police used several buses and formed human walls to prevent the demonstrators from marching beyond the Lotus Road Roundabout. Angry protestors threw stones at the bus blockade in an attempt to break through the barricade. A tense standoff ensued between police and protestors but UNP MPs climbed on buses to calm the crowds.
Weliweriya residents and the monk who led the water demonstration in the area also participated in the protest.
According to eyewitness accounts, the Opposition rally managed to garner a crowd of between 800-1000 protestors.
Calling it the Enough is Enough rally, opposition activists led by the United National Party gathered in front of the Fort Railway station to demand answers about who gave the military orders to shoot unarmed protestors and why the army used live bullets instead of riot police gear to disperse the crowds. Staunchly anti-regime posters, placards and masks were wielded by protestors who demanded among other things, the resignation of the Defence Secretary over the Weliweriya shootings.
Once the speeches ended, Opposition MPs led the crowds on a march towards Galle Face. Former UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya led the march and was joined by a host of other legislators including Harsha De Silva, Harin Fernando, Ravi Karunanayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Eran Wickremaratne and UNP National Organiser Daya Gamage.
Three young men were killed and dozens injured when the military was deployed to crush a residential demonstration in the Gampaha District town of Weliweriya on August 1. Residents have accused the army of firing live ammunition into the crowd. At least two of the fatalities were victims of gunshot