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IUSF activists granted bail over Kelaniya protest

20 Oct 2022

BY Buddhika Samaraweera   The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) activists who were arrested during the IUSF protest on Tuesday (18) – which demanded the release of all activists arrested for engaging in the “aragalaya”, including IUSF Convenor Wasantha Mudalige and Inter-University Bhikkhus’ Federation (IUBF) Convenor Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera – were released on bail yesterday (19). A total of eight IUSF activists, including a Buddhist monk, who are aged between 22 and 27 years, and are residents of Kirama, Galgamuwa, Marathugoda, Harispaththuwa, Embilipitiya, Madampe, and Bulnewa, were arrested by the Police during the said protest for allegedly blocking the Colombo-Kandy Main Road. They were produced before the Mahara Magistrate’s Court yesterday, after which they were all released on bail. Upon being granted bail, the IUSF activists told the media that they were engaged in the protest on Tuesday in a peaceful manner, but that the police officers were blocking the Colombo-Kandy Main Road even before the protest commenced. They also claimed that the police officers attempted to further detain them by making explanations to the court with regard to certain other protests in which they had earlier participated. “We took to the streets for Mudalige and Siridhamma Thera who are currently being detained illegally. They were leading the ‘aragalaya’, which represented the voice of the people who are suffering due to many issues. If the Government led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe is planning to have fun during this silence, that is where they will get it wrong. We will continue the ‘aragalaya’ until the resolution of the people's issues and the release of Mudalige, Siridhamma Thera, and other activists,” the activists who were released on bail said. Meanwhile, the IUSF and IUBF activists had organised a protest in front of the University of Kelaniya yesterday against the arrest of several activists who participated in the protest on Tuesday. They marched towards the Colombo-Kandy Main Road along the Sarasavi Mawatha, which leads to the Main Road from the university premises.  During the march, they chanted slogans such as “repeal repressive laws including the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA) immediately”, “let’s get rid of the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa (a reference to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa) ‘junta’ and fight for the people’s rights”, “stop abductions and imprisonments immediately – release activists”, and “let us live – lower the tax burden”. The IUSF had organised a protest on Tuesday to make several demands, including the release of all activists arrested for engaging in the “aragalaya”, including Mudalige and Siridhamma Thera, both of whom are currently being detained by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) under the PTA. The protest, which was organised to commemorate the completion of two months since their detention, and which was to proceed towards Colombo from Kelaniya, was blocked by a large group of about 500 police officers. The IUSF had organised a massive protest in Colombo on 18 August against President Wickremesinghe and the Government. A total of 16 university students who were arrested during that protest were released on bail after being produced before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court on 19 August, while Mudalige, Siridhamma Thera, and IUSF member Hashan Jeewantha were placed under detention by the CID.  Jeewantha was later released on bail after being produced before the relevant magistrate; however, Mudalige and Siridhamma Thera are still being interrogated by the CID on a 90-day detention order signed by Wickremesinghe in his capacity as Minister of Defence.

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