Ten workers of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) filed a fundamental rights violation petition yesterday before the Supreme Court against the impugned police assault on the peaceful demonstrators within the FTZ on May 30.
In their petition filed through their instructing Attorney-at-Law Gowry Shangary Thavarasha, they cited the Police OICs of Katunayake and Seeduwa as well as Negombo DIG,
former IGP Mahinda Balasuriya, the Board of Investment, Army Commander Lt.Gen.Jagath Jayasuriya and the Attorney General as Respondents.
The petitioners are Mangala Sampath (labourer), Rohitha (transformer winder), Buddhika Atapattu (machine operator), Dhanushka Sanjeewa (labourer), Anesh Imalka (transformer winder), Thamali Iresha (helper), Nisshanka Wanigasekara (supervisor), Jayatissa (driver), Lasantha Perera (cutter) and Lalinda Herath (helper).
Some of the petitioners had taken part in the protest while other had not. Some of them had been detained by the police. All had been injured and admitted to hospital.
In their petition, they state that the Katunayake FTZ is situated in the Gampaha District on 190 hectares of land and that there are about 50,000 workers and 84 factories in it.
They state that on May 30, 2011, about 600 persons had gathered within the FTZ protesting the “Employees’ Pension Benefits Fund Bill” while hundreds of police officers were present in the area.
They allege that at or around 12.03 p.m., the police officers present, suddenly and without any warning used tear gas on the unarmed peaceful protest in an attempt to quell it.
They also allege that hundreds of police officers armed with firearms and iron poles charged the FTZ workers and some police officers threw stones and other unidentified objects at them while they were attempting to flee. They allege that they were critically injured and warded at various hospitals.
They complain that the conduct of the police officers was violative of the legitimate expression of their dissent depriving them of their right to freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly as well as their right to freedom from torture and arbitrary arrest.