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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Garment worker dead after police crackdown

Roshain Shanaka who received gun shot wounds during the protest against the proposed pension bill had died in Ragama hospital.The worker was in Intensive Care since he was shot during the clashes on Monday. Several police officers were also wounded as a result of retaliation by the protesting workers.

Earlier Sri Lanka police chief, Mahinda Balasuriya, has handed over his retirement papers. Some police officers involved in the crackdown were also arrested by the police.

The police have faced widespread criticism for their handling of a protest on Monday by workers who are angry about government plans for private sector pensions.

The factories in Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) remained closed on Wednesday while many garment sector workers continue to protest.

Protest in Colombo

Over thousand workers protested in the capital on Wednesday to demand withdrawal of the new pension proposal and to condemn a crackdown against the earlier protest.

Police clashed with the protestors, using tear gas and batons and also opened fire at the crowd.

Officials say Inspector General of Police (IGP) Balasuriya is merely retiring early.

The next IGP is likely to be Senior Deputy Inspector General NK Illangakoon.

Trade union activists accuse the police of forcibly entering work places on Monday and assaulting male and female workers.

Saman Ratnapriya of the Joint Trade Union Alliance told the BBC, twenty of the workers are still in hospital as a result of police brutality.

Eight of the most critical had been admitted to Ragama hospital and over two hundred had been treated in Negambo. Further one hundred were treated at Seeduwa hospital.

Reluctant to seek medical attention

Opposition parliamentarian Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena told journalists in Colombo on Wednesday that several workers assaulted by police are reluctant to seek medical advice due to fear of been arrested.

Speaking to the BBC, workers say some pregnant workers and a person who was recovering from a by-pass operation were among the victims of police brutality.

Many of the garment factories in the FTZ that employs around 80,000 workers produce clothes for popular labels in European and US market

BBC Sinhala


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