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Schoolchildren affected by tear gas, water cannons during Colombo Uni protest

Schoolchildren affected by tear gas, water cannons during Colombo Uni protest

09 Mar 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

A protest organised by university teachers and the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) in Colombo yesterday (8) opposing the Police’s use of tear gas and water cannons against the the IUSF-organised protest Tuesday (7) near the University of Colombo was also met with tear gas and water cannon attacks by the Police, which had reportedly affected after-school transportation in the vicinity.

During the protest – which started near the university premises with the participation of more than 500 university teachers and students, including IUSF members – protestors chanted slogans against President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the current Government, and the Police while holding up placards that read various slogans. The protest progressed towards the Town Hall area along the road in front of Thurston College, Colombo 7. At the time, a heavy Police presence, including officers of the Police Special Task Force, Anti-Riot Unit Officers, and Army personnel, was observed around the area and water cannon trucks were seen parked on the side of the main road. As the protest moved forward, protestors were observed stopping and shouting towards the private residence of Wickremesinghe on Fifth Lane in Colombo 3. In response, a large group of police officers was deployed to the location of the President’s residence. 

The protestors then proceeded to move further towards the Town Hall area, prompting the Police to use tear gas and water cannons on them at Cambridge Place in Colombo 7. The tear gas and water cannon attack by the Police had also affected schoolchildren in school vehicles. As seen in video footage, schoolchildren were greatly inconvenienced by the tear gas and water cannon attacks. Meanwhile, a student in a school bus was seen holding a placard which read: “Victory to the people’s struggle (“aragalayata jayawewa”)”.


The protest held by the IUSF on Tuesday – which was based on a number of demands, including the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, the release of student activists arrested for what the IUSF claims to be were unjust reasons, and the holding of the Local Government election as scheduled – was met with tear gas and water cannon attacks by the Police in the area surrounding the university. During the Police’s tear gas and water cannons attack, protestors had entered the university premises, following which a group of Police and Anti Riot Unit Officers had also entered and allegedly assaulted several protestors.


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