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FUTA condemns continuing detention of student leaders

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The Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) has condemned the continued detention of student leaders and trade union activists since the first week of August, FUTA General Secretary, Rohan Laksiri said, issuing a press release.

Full text of the FUTA statement: “The only reason these activists are being detained is because they dared to defy this anti-democratic government and express their dissent while fighting for the future of free education in this country. On previous occasions, when courts refused to accede to anti-democratic moves by the police to ban protests and granted bail to those arrested under the guise of violating health regulations, the government and its mercenary police force attempted to forcibly quarantine protestors..

“Because this approach earned broad social displeasure and condemnation from the legal community, the police has shifted tactics and charged these student activists under the provisions of the public property ordinance. Legally, this might be a justifiable means of detaining these activists. But if we look at the broader context in which they are being detained, it is an act of political vindictiveness. There is no moral justification for the detention of these activists – all they did was protest and exercise their democratic right to dissent.

“Furthermore, at this point in time three of them have tested positive for COVID-19. Since the PCR tests conducted at the time of their arbitrary arrest were all negative, it is clear that they contracted COVID while in remand custody, when considering the three-week time frame between their arrests and being tested positive with the second PCR test. We would like to remind the government that these are university students and trade union activists, and not common criminals or terrorists. If any of them develop complications due to COVID-19 the onus is on the government. It is the beholden duty of a democratic state to look after the welfare of those in its custody. Therefore, we demand that the government immediately provide them the necessary treatment and ensure their health and also withdraw all fabricated charges against them. If the government fails to act responsibly at this moment, we would like to observe that this is no longer a democratic government but similar to a petulant school ground bully or a common street thug who tries to exact petty revenge from those who stand up against its arbitrary conduct.”



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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