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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Victims take cops to courts for FR violation

The Sunday Times 03/07/2011

Police attack on FTZ workers

A group of 10 Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) workers on June 28 filed individual petitions in the Supreme Court, on the violation of their Fundamental Rights (FR) by the Police, for the brutal attack on their peaceful protest against the implementation of the Private Sector Pension Fund Bill proposed by the Government.

The petitioners were among those injured in the attack. Petitioners cited the Katunayake Police Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Seeduwa Police OIC, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Negombo, former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mahinda Balasuriya, IGP N.K. Illangakoon, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka, Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya and the Attorney General as respondents.

Petitioners stated that on May 20, they had decided to organise a peaceful protest against the proposed Bill, after several meetings with the relevant authorities had failed. They said that the protest was mainly by all workers employed in several factories operating within the FTZ in Katunayake, and there was no involvement of any political party.

They said that the proposed Bill was detrimental to the workers and they were vehemently protesting against a move to pass the Bill. The petitioners state that when they were protesting within the Zone, a police force of about 600 personnel armed with firearms and iron poles, had stopped them. They said that during the verbal confrontation they had with the police, they were attacked with poles and teargas. The workers then had run away to escape the onslaught from the police. The police had then chased the workers, dragged a few of the female workers from their workplace and assaulted them with poles. They also stated that the police had damaged their factory premises.

The petitioners state that, in the fracas, some of the police had opened fire on them, which caused the death of a young worker who had been employed for just four months.

The petitioners further stated that the brutal onslaught by the police violated their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. They also said that many workers were treated in nearby hospitals for injuries sustained in the attack, while some injured workers still remained hospitalised.

The petitions were filed by Attorney-at-Law Gowry Shangary Thavarasa on behalf of the injured workers.