9 August declared ‘national day of protest’

By Dinitha Rathnayake

Protestors of the “aragalaya” (struggle) have declared 9 August as a “national day of protest” (Jathika Virodatha Dinaya) in their respective cities and regions.

According to sources, people will gather in their own towns to protest against State repression, especially demanding that the Government abolish the state of emergency, emergency law, and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), as well as that it release all protestors who have been arrested and that it cease the hunting down of protestors.

A leaflet of new demands and the way forward is to be distributed during the regional protests on the same day.

The National Trade Union Co-ordination Centre (NTUCC) will be organising a rally on Viharamaha Devi grounds in Colombo on 9 August at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, a protest rally was held in Nugegoda on 6 August by the Galle Face protestors, urging the Government to immediately cease the repression of activists.

The main gathering was held at the Ananda Samarakoon Open Air Theatre in Nugegoda. 

The protest rally was organised by a combination of political parties, trade unions, and civil organisations, purportedly against repression, the emergency law, Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), and enforced disappearances.

Accordingly, a group of Sri Lankans in Los Angeles, named “Sri Lankans for Democracy” staged a protest last night (7) against the repressive measures taken by the Government against peaceful protestors.

The protestors said that the victory earned by the people’s protests after months has been taken away from them, and that all those who contributed to bringing the country to its current position should be prosecuted. They also protested against the repressive measures being taken by the Sri Lankan Government.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe also met several factions of Galle Face protestors at the Presidential Secretariat on 5 August. The President said that he hopes to obtain the contribution of all protestors in every way to overcome the economic challenges faced by the country.

The protestors requested the President to stop illegally and arbitrarily arresting those who participated in the struggle. They pointed out that many protestors were reluctant to leave the protest site for fear of being arrested.

According to sources, the Black Cap Movement, which is no longer a part of the Galle face protest movement, had agreed on this discussion with the President.

Some elements of the Galle Face protest movement stated that they would never enter into discussions with Wickremesinghe, as the second demand of their action plan has been that he should resign. 

“The Black Cap Movement has gone against our consensus, desiring an alliance with the governing party, which we oppose,” they stated. 

Meanwhile, activists and human rights organisations described a systematic targeting of figures who are prominent in the protest movement. More than 100 people, including a Buddhist monk, have been arrested, the courts have issued travel bans against several protestors, the Police have raided protestors’ family homes, and security agencies have taken activists off the streets and questioned them for hours.

Meanwhile, social media activist Avishka Viraj Konara, speaking to The Morning, said he had decided to withdraw from the “aragalaya”.