Student Activists detained for 72 hours

Sri Lanka: Student Activists detained for 72 hours; Police want to use Terrorism Act for 3-month detention

by Zulfick Farzan 19-08-2022 | 9:35 PM

COLOMBO (News 1st); Sri Lanka's Police Spokesperson Attorney-at-Law Nihal Thalduwa said that IUSF Convener Hasantha Mudalige, Hashan Gunathilake, and another are to be detained and interrogated for 72 hours. 

He said that Police has requested Defence Minister for permission to detain and interrogate them for 90 Days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The Office of the Police Media Division said that Venerable Galwewa Siridhamma Thero, and Bhashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake will be held under detention orders, in addition to Wasantha Mudalige, the Inter-University Student's Federation Convener.

19 people were arrested by Sri Lanka Police on Thursday (18) evening following a protest in Colombo.

Sri Lanka Police said that the suspects were arrested by the Cinnamon Gardens, Slave Island, Borella Police Stations, and the Kelaniya Crimes Division.

16 of the suspects were released on a personal bail of Rs. 500,000 each by the Colombo Additional Magistrate's Court. Venerable Galwewa Siridhamma Thero, Bhashantha Jeewantha Gunathilake, and Wasantha Mudalige were NOT released on bail.

The 16 suspects who were released on bail were charged with unlawful assembly, and obstructing the duties of police officers by blocking the road.

Colombo Additional Magistrate T. N. L. Illangasinghe issued an overseas travel ban on Actor Jehan Appuhamy, who is charged with escaping from police custody following Thursday's (18) protest.

The Addition Magistrate made the order following a request made by the Slate Island Police.

Sri Lanka Police told Court that the Inter-University Student's Federation instead of protesting at Lipton Circus had attempted to proceed to Fort via Union Place by blocking the roads.

Sri Lanka Police pointed out that the student protestors had assaulted police officers and obstructed their duties.

Sri Lanka Police told the court that they arrested the suspects who defied a police order to disperse from the area.

Police requested the court to remand the 16 suspects until the investigations were completed.

However, President's Counsel Saliya Peiris appearing for the Student Activists told the court that the submissions by Sri Lanka Police were fabricated and false.

The President's Counsel told the court that a large police force from Union Place chased after the peaceful protestors at Lipton Circus and repeatedly attacked them.

Saliya Peiris PC stressed that the allegation made by police claiming that the Student Activists hurled stones at the police officers, is completely false.

He said that Sri Lanka Police was making inaccurate submissions to portray the peaceful protest, as one that was unlawful.

President's Counsel Rienzie Arsecularatne who was also appearing for the suspects noted that Sri Lanka Police had not informed the court of the offense committed by the protestors to term their protest as an unlawful one, when the protest itself contained slogans demanding the reopening of universities, and to bring down the cost of living.

The President's Counsel noted that Sri Lanka Police had exploited the law.

Upon considering the submissions made by the counsel, the court ordered for the 16 suspects to be released on bail and fixed the 12th of September as the next court date for the case.

"The Detention Orders are made under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Police produced a B report on the protest, but did not mention any act that related to an act of terror or to topple the government," said Attorney-at-Law Nuwan Bopage, a lawyer who has been with the Aragalaya protests since the beginning.

"Ranil Wickremesinghe's government is using the PTA to suppress those who are against the government," he alleged.