04 June 2011/By Lakna Paranamanna
Hundreds of student monks marched to Temple Trees yesterday to protest the government’s suppression of people’s fundamental and democratic rights.The protest march which began at the Vihara Maha Devi Park continued right up to Temple Trees without being stopped by security personnel unlike on previous instances.
The barriers placed at the Kollupitiya Junction were removed, providing free passage for the monks.
The protesting monks who blocked the Galle Road gathered outside the Temple Trees gate and chanted slogans protesting the killing of the FTZ worker Roshen Chanaka, the death of Ruhunu university student Susantha Bandara last year and student monk Katukenda Siri Sumana Thera’s suicide that occurred a few weeks ago.
“The government should bear responsibility for these deaths. These are the results of the people’s rights being suppressed,” Inter University Bhikku Federation (IUBF) Convener Kamburugamuwe Gnanessara Thera said when he addressed the protestors.
Meanwhile, UPFA parliamentarian Nishantha Muthuhettigama who arrived at the spot claimed he stopped because of his respect for the monks and told them he would get an appointment from the President to discuss their issues. However, a few minutes later he told the monks the President welcomed them to have dana (alms) if they wish to, but no discussions will be allowed. This triggered a heated argument between the monks and the parliamentarian and the verbal clash ended after the monks accused the parliamentarian of arriving at the scene intoxicated and had verbally abused them.
Although monks continued their protest for more than two hours, they were not allowed to meet the President and convey their grievances.
“This government has done nothing to ensure that parties responsible for the loss of these innocent lives are taken to task. Instead they have appointed useless committees and reports.