Police brutality May day in Sri Lanka (fwd)

Chris Faatz cfaatz at teleport.com
Fri May 10 09:50:17 MDT 1996

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 09:37:04 +0100
From: "Internat. Pressekorrespondenz" <INPREKORR at OLN.comlink.apc.org>
Newsgroups: apc.gen.socialism, apc.labr.global, apc.reg.sasia
Subject: Police brutality May day in Sri Lanka




May Day marchers in Colombo, Sri Lanka were attacked and teargassed by police
who dispersed demonstrators, seriously injuring several of them. Just two days
before all demonstrations-though not rallies-had been banned by the police
citing unexplained "security considerations". Presumably a reference to the
renewed military offensive in the north of the island and the possibility of the
Tamil separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam hitting back in Colombo. The
Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP, Sri Lankan section of the Fourth International)
defied the ban and organised a procession of over one thousand. The marchers
carried a coffin in front symbolising the death of democracy less than two years
into the Peoples Alliance government of Chandrika Kumaratunga. The NSSP was
drawing attention to the steady erosion of the promises to respect human rights
and democratic liberties that had won the ruling coalition popular support
against the previous regime. What the marchers hadn't realised was that they
were going to be the latest casualties in the Government's increasing
authoritarianism and use of Emergency powers. Eyewitness accounts report that
without any provocation or prior notice, hundreds of police baton charged and
teargassed workers breaking up the coffin and assaulting those in the
contingent. About thirty comrades were injured, some with serious injuries
including broken limbs. One has had fifteen stitches to his head. Meanwhile
hundreds more who had assembled at De Mel Park (the rally point) waiting for the
marchers were themselves teargassed by other police. These included women and
children having their lunch. At the same time as this vicious attack, other
demonstrations were taking place including those of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party
(LSSP) and a section of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) both represented in
Government. These events, just as "illegal" as the NSSP's, were not harrassed in
any way. Without doubt the NSSP has been targeted by state authorities for
embarrassing the Government over its campaign slogans, "Stop The War Against
Tamils" and "No To Privatisation" and for being a militant pole of attraction
for workers and youth disenchanted by the current government. Almost one hundred
years to the day when the Chicago working class were brutally attacked in the
Haymarket massacre, the NSSP wished to celebrate the international day of
working class struggle and solidarity. Those in the present Government who
fought alongside the NSSP in defence of freedom and life must speak and act out
against this shocking incident.
The NSSP appeals to all SOCIALISTS and TRADE UNIONISTS to write or fax the
President of Sri Lanka 1) To protest and condemn this May Day outrage, 2) For an
independent and accountable inquiry into the events, 3) For compensation to
injured workers.
Please write or fax: The President of Sri Lanka, H.E. Chandrika Kumaratunga,
Presidential Secretariat, Colombo 01, Sri Lanka. FAX (941) 333 703
Please send copy to the NSSP fax (941) 334 822.

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