Outcry Over Rambukkana Shooting; Envoys of UN, US and Canada Chung, Singer -Handy and McKinnon Voice Concern; Bar Association Calls for Independent Probe;SL Human Rights Commission Launches Investigation;TNA MP Shanakkiyan Rasamanickam Calls for Resignation of new Public Security Minister Prasanna Ranatunga

Following the death of an anti-Government protestor after Police opened fire on the protestors in Rambukkana, the envoys of the United Nations (UN), the US, and Canada have voiced their concern about the incident, while the Government and relevant authorities have come under criticism from both the political Opposition and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).

US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung took to Twitter to call for a full, transparent investigation, which she noted was essential.
“I am deeply saddened by the horrible news coming out of Rambukkana. I condemn any violence – whether against protesters or police – and call for restraint and calm from all sides,” she said.

Further, Chung mentioned that the people’s right to peaceful protest must be upheld.

While expressing her deep concern over the incidents that occurred in Rambukkana, United Nations (UN) Sri Lanka Resident Co-ordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy says that violence by any party involved hinders the rights of all peaceful protestors.

“Restricting use of force to the minimum extent necessary is vital to protect citizens and their right to exercise fundamental freedoms,” she said in a Tweet.

Canada’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka David McKinnon also said that maximum restraint is urgently required, and those instigating violence must be held accountable.

“Deeply saddened to hear of the dead and injured in Rambukkana. My thoughts go out to their families,” the envoy said in a Tweet.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) also called for an independent investigation into the matter.

“The BASL is shocked and saddened at the loss of life in the incident yesterday evening at Rambukkana where the Police are alleged to have shot at the protestors. An independent investigation must be done and the Government must ensure that the Police and the Armed Forces act with utmost restraint in light of the genuine grievances of the protestors,” BASL President Saliya Pieris (President’s Counsel) said via his social media yesterday.

“We are saddened that previous warnings made by us, as far back as January 2022, went unheeded by the authorities. Our members will continue to do their utmost to safeguard the rights of the people of this country.”

Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Opposition MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam yesterday (19) called on newly-appointed Public Security Minister Prasanna Ranatunga to take responsibility for the shooting at Rambukkana, which left one civilian dead, and to resign immediately.

“Ranatunga, is this what we are to expect in the days to come? As the Minister in charge of Public Security, you must take responsibility for this incident and resign immediately. Within 48 hours since your appointment, we have already lost one innocent life,” Rasamanickam Tweeted yesterday.

At the time of writing, Ranatunga was yet to issue an official statement on the incident.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) is due to hold an emergency meeting today (20) and has assigned a special team to investigate the shooting at Rambukkana.

After the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) announced a fuel price hike with effect from midnight on 18 April, filling stations in the Rambukkana area had stopped issuing fuel. However, the people waiting in queues near filling stations until midnight that day started a protest in the Rambukkana area, demanding the release of fuel at the old prices.

Accordingly, they staged a protest on 18 April from 1.30 a.m., blocking the Colombo-Kandy railway line in the Rambukkana area. The Rambukkana-Mawanella, Rambukkana-Kegalle, and Rambukkana-Kurunegala main roads were also blocked due to the protests. The Police opened fire on the protestors, and one protestor was pronounced dead upon admission to hospital.

“From morning, there were protests obstructing the railway crossing at Rambukkana. A diesel bowser was parked obstructing the railway crossing and the protests continued. The Police intervened and continuously advised them to disperse,” said Police Media Spokesperson Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Attorney-at-Law Nihal Thalduwa.

“However, the protestors did not listen and tried to set fire to the bowser. They also set fire to a three wheeler. The Police used tear gas on them and as they were doing so, the protestors threw stones at the Police. To control this situation, the Police had opened fire.”

Courtesy:The Morning