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Unprovoked attacks on protesting public: FUTA asks Prez, IGP to resign

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The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) has demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D. Wickremaratne, over their failure to prevent indiscriminate, unprovoked attacks on the public campaigning against the government.

FUTA has alleged that former Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa and his office were complicit in Monday’s violence, directed at those camping in front of Temple Trees and Galle Face Green. The outfit urged the public to desist from violence.

The following is the text of the statement issued by Rohan Laksiri, General Secretary, FUTA: “We unequivocally condemn the attack on peaceful protestors at the Galle Face Green and near the Temple Trees on the 9th of May 2022. We are of the view that the now resigned Prime Minister Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his office was complicit in this violence. The individuals and groups who attacked the peaceful protestors were hosted at the Temple Trees, official residence of the Prime Minister, just before they proceeded towards Galle Face, with the intention to confront those at Galle Face Green.

“Although he has now rendered his resignation, we demand that Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa should explain to the People, whom he was duty bound to serve and protect, why this group of people were invited and hosted by him on Monday (09) today at Temple Trees. This reception stands in stark contrast to the outright hostility shown towards peaceful protestors outside Temple Trees who have been demanding his resignation. You owe it to the People to name the individuals who organized the meeting at Temple Trees, who approved the use of the hall for this purpose and facilitated the meeting. Social and mass media reports identify some cabinet ministers, parliamentarians and members of the local government institutions being present at this meeting and in the mob that later attacked the protestors.

“The FUTA calls upon the President and the Inspector General of Police also to resign immediately in recognition of their failure to prevent this violence.

“The FUTA demands that immediate legal action must be taken against those who have instigated violence, irrespective of their social or political status. We also call upon the authorities to conduct an impartial investigation to look into the behaviour of the Police and the armed forces during the incident.

“We thank the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Bar Association for acting independently and fulfilling its mandate by condemning the actions of our public officials. We call upon the Police, the Armed Forces, the Judiciary and all other public servants to fulfill their duty and act impartially and resist any force that may be placed on any of them to give into undue political pressure.

“Sri Lanka is once again at a breaking point. We, Sri Lankans, are once again suffering material and emotional hardship due to the deliberate acts of mal-governance of our elected representatives. We note that this is a catastrophic event in a long series of events that we have experienced in this island nation. Over the last several weeks, people from all walks of life have come together to ask for accountability, for constitutional government and for a system change. In response, this Government has declared a state of emergency, made a mockery of parliamentary process and has sought to, for all intents and purposes, continue with their business as usual. Today, public institutions and their processes are being held hostage to the will of a few in Government.

“We condemn this state capture and demand that the President heed the call of the people, desist from further destroying the democratic fabric of Sri Lanka. We condemn all and any attempt by the Government to absolve itself from responsibility in this regard.

Furthermore, the FUTA urges the general public to act responsibly and sensibly, refraining from all sorts of violence that could destroy lives, public and private properties etc. as such acts of violence could undermine the peoples’ struggle. “



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Dhammika asks Ranil to resign as FM

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Minister of Investment Promotion, Dhammika Perera, yesterday told the media, in Colombo, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to resign from his post as Finance Minister.

Minister Perera said that the Prime Minister was blocking all dollar earnings, borrowings, bridging finance, available essential food credit lines and other credit lines.

“I am joining the Aragalaya from today. I have been in the government for seven days. I have seen what happens. The Prime Minister must stop his political game as the Minister of Finance,” he said.

Perera added that Wickremesinghe had no plan to boost the cash flow, about feeding people, or bringing in dollars.

The Minister of Investment Promotion said that instead of describing the people’s economic woes, the Finance Ministry had to find solutions.

“For example, the proposal to give investors 10-year multiple visas was finalised some time ago. One month has since elapsed, but the Treasury is sitting on it. This is because Ranil is in the habit of stopping projects if they bring in dollars. More than 50 people have come to get the visa by paying 100,000 USD.

About 300 more are on the list. We can bring in 30 million dollars to Sri Lanka, this month, with the help of this visa scheme. Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister is inviting disaster,” Minister Perera said.

Perera added that while Wickremesinghe could continue as the Prime Minister, but as the Finance Minister, the latter had no desire to resolve the foreign currency crisis. All of Sri Lanka’s economic woes are linked to the dollar shortage, he said.

“I challenge Ranil and his economic experts to an open media debate. Maybe he can answer my questions. I challenged him to a debate in 2019, and he ran away. I am challenging him again,” Minister Perera said.

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JVP Leader accuses govt. of hatching plot against his party

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday said that the government was planning to suppress his party by levelling false allegations against the latter.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters, Pelawatte, Dissanayake said that the plot hatched by the government could lead to bloodshed.

“A video has been released, on social media, instructing how to make Molotov Cocktails. The voice, in the footage, instructs the viewer to make bombs in a similar manner, and tie them to their bodies and explode themselves at the President’s House. The video says that after the explosion I would be appointed the President. Anyone would know that the JVP would not do anything stupid like that. This video is another attempt by the government to justify the use of violence against its critics. There have been similar instances in the past and this country has suffered heavily as a result,” Dissanayake said.

He said that his party lawyers would submit the video to the CID and demand an investigation from the police on who had created and uploaded it to social media. “There is a massive protest to be held in Colombo centering the Galle Face Aragalaya.

“We, too, will participate in it. The government’s response to the protests is to use the police and the army. In addition there are several other developments, including the creation of a para-military force against us. Each SLPP MP is given a chance to recruit five persons, loyal to him or her, as home guards to provide security to the MP. There was a letter from the IGP to Defence Secretary warning of possible bomb attacks. Our party’s name is there in that warning. I have queried this letter in Parliament, too, yet there is no explanation yet. It is in the same context some MPs have requested for personal firearms from the Defence Ministry. Taken together, these developments could indicate the plans of government suppression and what is there in store for us. We do not think that they could fool the people with these tricks. The CID is capable of investigating and finding the sources of any video against the President, in social media, within 24 hours. So we expect the same expedient action would be taken with regard to our complaint, too,” Dissanayake said.

He said that the JVP was prepared to stabilize the country and help bring it out of the current crisis in a short period of time.

Dissanayake said the JVP does not intend to do it alone and was confident that the citizens of the country, and Lankans overseas, would extend their support to the party for this purpose.

“This crisis cannot be resolved by changing posts or individuals, and especially not through a government that has lost the trust of the people,” he added.

When inquired about Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in Parliament on his willingness to step down to allow Dissanayake to implement his economic plans, the MP said he was prepared to take up the task.

He said, however, that the President and Prime Minister must resign if he were to take up the challenge and implement JVP’s programme to save the country from the crisis.

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Move to set-up smoke-free zones: PHI union says member engaged in project harassed; Ministry says action in line with establishment code

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by Ifham Nizam

Public Health Inspectors’ Union has accused a section of the Health Ministry officials of working against a project to establish smoke-free zones in Sri Lanka.

The union alleged that a PHI who served the anti-tobacco campaign and went to the extent of sacrificing his personal leave for the same had been denied annual increments.

It said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) organised a project, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), to set up at least one smoke-free zone in each Medical Officer of Health Division countrywide. The union said that it played a significant role in the project.

The union alleged that PHI T. G. S. L. Prakash, of the Principal Public Health Inspectors’ Unit of the Ministry of Health, had been invited as a resource person as he innovated a 10-step process for establishing smoke-free zones for combatting second hand smoke.

However, the Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) of the Ministry of Health Dr. S. M. Arnold had obstructed the project by blocking Prakash’s participation, the union alleged.

Responding to The Island queries, Dr. S. M. Arnold said that he acted in terms of the Establishment Code and recommendations made by the relevant committee. Dr. Arnold said that the PHI concerned applied for leave for his PhD on Elephant Ecology study overseas, and work-related to NATA did not come under their purview. Dr. Arnold pointed out that the PHI Union President was also working for NATA.

Public Health Inspectors’ Union, President. Upul Rohana has previously asked the Health Secretary to conduct an investigation into the conduct of Dr. S. M. Arnold. According to the union for more than five years, PHI Prakash has conducted various research on the establishment of smoke-free zones in collaboration with NATA and the WHO and published and presented the research results at local and international fora.

The union said that the Chairman of NATA had requested that PHI Prakash to participate in the project as the outfit could benefit from his experience and expertise he had gained overseas in tobacco prevention.

The union claimed that the PHI concerned had participated in the project utilising his personal leave. The union alleged that Dr. Arnold had said that he wouldn’t recommend the annual salary increment for the particular PHI Prakash as his attendance was unsatisfactory.

PHI Chief Rohana emphasised that the concerned Deputy Director General continued to harass the officers who volunteered for their duties, abusing the power of his positio. He said although the union had complained to the health authorities, no action has been taken in that regard so far and their union would not hesitate to resort to trade union action seeking justice.

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