Lanka Opposition accuse police of breaking up protests under cover of pandemic rules

·2-min read

Colombo, Jul 9 (PTI) The Opposition parties in Sri Lanka on Friday accused the police of breaking up democratic protests by using COVID-19 pandemic rules after several people were arrested this week for participating in peaceful demonstrations and subjected to mandatory quarantine. Several protests have taken place in different parts of the country by farmer and teacher trade unionists. The police have arrested the protesters and sent them for quarantine, claiming they had breached pandemic health guidelines.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told parliament this morning that sending people for quarantine by force was against the laws and a denial of their human rights.

“The police have no powers to use physical force on protestors and send them for quarantine after the court gives them bail,' Dissanayake said.

He said that in some cases the courts have refused to issue orders to the police to send the protesters for quarantine.

Meanwhile, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya on Friday petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that attempts by police to prevent protests using quarantine regulations violate people's fundamental rights.

The petitioners said the police chief, the Director-General of Health Services and the Health Minister are being cited as respondents.

The DG health services last week issued guidelines, making peaceful protests as violations of the pandemic prevention health guidelines.

The SJB in their petition said that his guidelines are illegal, unlawful, discriminatory and infringe the fundamental rights of the petitioners and the public.

Defending the police action, Sarath Weerasekera, the minister-in-charge of the police said they would continue to arrest anyone who would protest defying quarantine regulations issued by the Health Services Director General and send them for quarantine.

Sri Lanka has so far reported 2.7 lakh COVID-19 cases with 3,391 deaths. PTI Corr NSA

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