Protest against militarisation of education: Sri Lankan court extends remand of activists

The Sri Lankan court had extended the order to remand the activists till October 12. They were arrested for their protests against the militarisation of education.

“Arrested Frontline Socialist Party activist Chameera Koswatta, Inter University Students Federation Convener Wasantha Mudalige, student activists Amila Sandeepa & Heshan Harshana’s remand order extended till Oct.12 by Kaduwela Magistrate, today (5). Police reports failed to mention the name of 5th activist Koshila Hansamali,” Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka tweeted yesterday.

In a recent joint statement issued by leading human rights organisations, they says, “We the undersigned human rights organizations strongly condemn the ongoing persecution and reprisals by Sri Lankan authorities against student leaders, labour union leaders, teachers, academics, and others involved in recent protests against education policies in the country. Sri Lankan authorities have responded to the expression of dissent, protests and the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly with arbitrary arrests, intimidation, and a campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting the work of students, teachers, academics, and union activists.

Key demands of the protests advocating for education rights since July 2021 include addressing long-standing salary anomalies of teachers and principals, and seeking the withdrawal of the Kotelawala Defence National University (KDNU) Bill[1], which protesters contend promotes the privatization and militarization of education and threatens the future of free education and the university system in Sri Lanka.

Five activists—Koshila Hansamali Perera, of the People’s Movement for Free Education; Chameera Koswatte, from the Workers Struggle Centre; Amila Sandeepa, President of the Jayewardenepura University Students’ Union; Wasantha Mudalige, Convenor of the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF); and Heshan Harshana, a student leader from Rajarata University –  remain in detention due to their participation in a peaceful protest on August 3, 2021.  They are accused of “damaging public property”, “causing injuries to fingers of a policeman” and “violating Covid-19 regulations”. Several other activists and people connected with or supporting education rights defenders have faced arrest, threats and intimidation.”

Read the full statement:

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