Hirunika’s protest outside Ranil’s house blocked
- SJB women demand Police show court order banning protest
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
A heated situation arose between the Police and protestors during a protest organised by members of the Samagi Vanitha Balawegaya (SVB), the women’s wing of the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), including SVB National Organiser Hirunika Premachandra, in front of Prime Minister (PM) Ranil Wickremesinghe’s private residence at Fifth Lane, Colombo 3, yesterday (22).
Around 9 a.m. yesterday, a group of females representing the SVB, including Premachandra, had gathered near the entrance road to the Premier’s residence. At that time, they said that they wanted to hand over a letter to Wickremesinghe regarding the issues faced by the people, especially women, in the face of the current economic crisis in the country.
However, about 200 police officers had been deployed at the scene and the Police had also set up barricades blocking the road to the Premier’s residence. At that time, the Police did not allow the group of protestors, including Premachandra, to march towards Wickremesinghe’s residence, after which there was an intense protest against the Police.
A heated situation arose between the Police and the protestors when the latter group attempted to move towards the Premier’s residence amidst barricades. Video footage of the event, which was being shared on social media platforms, showed Premachandra attempting to jump over police barricades, and one protester fainting and being attended to by other protestors.
Speaking at that location, Premachandra charged that more than 200 police officers had been deployed near the Premier’s residence in fear of just around 20 females participating in the protest. The protestors also requested the Police to show them the relevant court order if the protest was blocked on such orders.
“Wickremesinghe is protecting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa because he has to hang on to the post of the Premier. Shame on you, Wickremesinghe. Come out and answer us. People are dying in queues to buy fuel. Are you all asleep? We went in front of Rajapaksa’s residence on 5 March, but we went there without giving prior notice. Today, we came to the front of your (Wickremesinghe) residence with advance notice. However, the leader who claims to be defending democracy to the world is using the Police to try to suppress a group of females. Is this your democracy?” Premachandra queried.
Speaking further, she added that after the tense situation which erupted on 9 May, the Rajapaksas (a reference to the family of President Rajapaksa) were left helpless with nothing to do. At that time, she said, the SJB had announced that it would take over the post of the Premier on the condition that the President would resign within a given timeframe. However, she further alleged, Wickremesinghe had subsequently assumed the post of the Premier unconditionally, for the protection of the Rajapaksas, even without informing the United National Party (UNP), of which Party Wickremesinghe is the Leader.
Speaking to the police officers at the scene, she questioned: “I am talking to the fathers behind that uniform. Do you have diesel, petrol, or gas? Can your children study when there are power cuts? Don’t you feel the people’s voice? You all should work to protect the people, not 73-year-old Wickremesinghe.”
Although the protestors continuously attempted to, the Police did not allow them to head to the Premier’s residence and a water cannon had also reached the site of the protest. At that time, the protestors sat on the road blocking one of the lanes on the High Level Road adjacent to the Fifth Lane. SJB MP Dr. Rajitha Senaratne was also present at the scene at the time. Later, they chanted slogans such as “Wickremesinghe, thief”, “Go home, Wickremesinghe” and “Go home, Rajapaksa”, while sitting on the road.
“Wickremesinghe recently said that there is a bridge made of thin glass and which has no handrail, through which he, wearing shoes with sharp nails that cannot be removed, has to safely carry a child. Is Government MP Namal Rajapaksa the child Wickremesinghe was talking about? Are Wickremesinghe’s parents the late D.A. Rajapaksa and Dandina Samarasinghe Dissanayake, the parents of President Rajapaksa? Is Wickremesinghe a brother of Government MP Mahinda Rajapaksa? The biggest disaster for this country is ‘deal politics’. Shouldn’t this Premier, who gets into bed with the Rajapaksas, leave? On 5 March, we marked the end of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and today we mark the end of Wickremesinghe,” Premachandra charged.