Protesting undergraduates charged that it was President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who had ordered the brutal teargas and water cannon attack on them yesterday (31), which left many hospitalized with injuries and several taken into police custody.
Journalists from Mawbima, Rivira and TNL along with undergraduates including bhikkhus were viciously assaulted by police anti-riot and Special Task Force personnel, who used an arsenal of batons, tear gas and water cannons against them.
Five undergraduates including one from the Sri Jayewardenepura University who were taken into custody were subsequently released by police.
Over 3,500 undergraduates from universities island-wide launched a protest march at 12 noon yesterday from the Sri Jayewardenepura University and made their way to Temple Trees to voice their protest to Wickremesinghe regarding several demands, which despite several letters having being written on reams and sheaves of paper to the relevant authorities including Sirisena, Wickremesinghe, and Cabinet, State and Deputy Ministers holding the portfolios of higher education and education requesting meetings for discussions, had fallen on deaf ears.
The students subsequently sat down on Galle Road near Kollupitiya, bringing traffic to a complete standstill.
The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) said that just because Sirisena and Wickremesinghe behaved like dictators as had Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, they would not end their struggle to win their demands.
IUSF Convenor Najith Indika added that good governance was a fraudulent lie which deceived the people.
“This is suppression. Before we tried to come to the Temple Trees, we protested regarding the selling of education, issuing circulars legalizing the charging of fees in schools, establishing private universities and selling degrees at State universities for two months at all respective universities. The satyagraha at the Open University regarding exorbitant course fees is now on its 107th day.
The Mahapola scholarship has been reduced to Rs 2,500. Thousands were dragged on the streets and assaulted inhumanely with many sustaining severe blows to the backs of their heads and limbs. Tear gas canisters had hit several in their torso and in particular midriff areas,” he remarked.
Inter-University Bhikkhu Federation Convenor Ven. Thenne Gnanananda Thera observed that there was a burden on all to protect free education, which was a responsibility each individual had to uphold.
“Wickremesinghe and Sirisena ordered this assault,” he alleged.
BY Ruwan Laknath Jayakody /CT
JVP Condemns the Attack
Government must take the full responsibility of the police attack on the protest by Inter University Students’ Federation on Tuesday (31), Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna stated.
Releasing a media statement on Wednesday (01), JVP stated that they strongly condemn using tear gas and high pressure water cannons to disperse the students who protested against the government’s failure to respond to its call to resolve issues in education.
Attacking students who claimed their rights without taking any steps to solve the problems cannot be accepted, the statement said.
“This government promised people to protect democracy after their win over Rajapaksa. But it seems that they have also taken the same path which was followed by Rajapaksa” the statement said and added that this system should be changed.
“Rajapaksa regime also attacked people in this manner. We still remember how they shot fishermen, labourers and common people in peaceful protests. That is why people united to defeat them. This ‘good governance’ government must keep that in their minds” JVP stressed.
If this government also hopes to solve problems of the people according to Rajapaksa regime’s method, everyone must condemn it, the statement said