The National Peoples Power (NPP) will petition the Supreme Court about the legality of the spate of arrests that have taken place in the pastfew days.

The arrests were made on the basis of a letter issued by Police Headquarters which states it is illegal to take part in public gatherings and public protests and that it is a measure taken to prevent the spread of Covid. This letter in turn refers to a letter issued by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) with the same prohibition. During a press briefing earlier today, Lawyers for the National Peoples Power(LNPP) demanded to see the letter which was issued by the DGHS. There has been no sight of this letter so far.  

Article 14 of the Constitution of Sri Lanka makes the freedom of speech, assembly, association and movement a fundamental right which can be changed only by parliament.  

Several opposition political party members and activists including Samantha Vidyaratna and Namal Karunaratne of the Janatha VimukthiPeramuna and General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers Union Joseph Stalin were arrested in the last two days.  They were taking part in protests by farmers who are demanding fertilizer to cultivate their land and opposing a Bill which was to be presented in parliament today to empower the Kotalawela Defence University to become the gateway to universities in the country. The latter is seen as the first step to militarise the country’s access to higher education.    

Legal provisions to prevent the spread of Covid,which stem from the Quarantine and Prevention of Diseases Ordnance of 1897 and its regulations, are seen as tools which are being used arbitrarily by the government and Police to intimidate and bring political opponents to heel.  


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