(Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara)
On the 1st of May, a group of persons brutally attacked former FUTA President and current media spokesperson, Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri and Dr Kumudu Kusum Kumara, also a prominent public intellectual, at Kirulapone. Dr Dewasiri and Dr Kusum Kumara had been near the May Day Rally organised by MPs Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dinesh Gunwardene. Those attacking Dr Dewasiri and Dr Kusum Kumara had been shouting that they were responsible for defeating former President Mahinda Rajapakse. Dr Dewasiri and Dr Kusum Kumara were fortunate to get away alive, thanks to the swift action of the police who had been providing security arrangements for the rally. The mob had even tried to attack the police vehicle which took away the two academics from the site.
This cowardly attack is a grim reminder of the kind of political culture that people thought they had defeated on the 8th of January 2015: lack of respect for political dissent; use of violence and complete intolerance of political opposition. It is extremely unfortunate, that these elements are allowed to behave as if nothing has changed. It is even more unfortunate, that they are provided a space in which to vent their hatred and intolerance and in fact are even encouraged to continue to behave in this manner, by elected representatives. As much or even more as we condemn the mob which engaged in this attack, we need to condemn the politics which engenders this kind of behaviour. It is the venomous political ideology spewed out b those who are no longer in power, after they have been defeated through democratic means, that is promoting the attitudes and actions that led to this attack.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack on our two members and colleagues. We demand an investigation into this event and that those responsible be brought before the law. Finally, we would like to reiterate that as university academics who have fought to uphold the rule of law, democratic principles and the right of dissent, our members cannot be intimidated by such cowardly attacks. We will continue to work for these principles and support all endeavours to ensure that this country strives towards the political reforms which the people voted for on the 8th of January 2015.