BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Following an order issued by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court and a heated debate between Police and protestors outside Temple Trees in Kollupitiya, vehicles parked on the pavement in the area and the constructions of the protest zone generally referred to as “MynaGoGama” were removed yesterday evening (4).
The heated debate took place when the Police produced a court order to the protestors and instructed them to dismantle the constructions. The protestors argued with the Police and asked that the Police first remove the buses that had been parked on the pavement.
Shortly after that, a group of pro-protest lawyers were seen advising the protestors that according to the court order, both the constructions and the vehicles needed to be removed. The lawyers further said that the court would consider the matter again on 9 May, and that protestors should be patient till then.
Following this, Police removed all their vehicles from the pavement, and soon after, the protestors followed suit by dismantling all their temporary constructions.
Colombo Fort Magistrate Manjula Ratnayake had issued the directive yesterday to remove all the constructions that cause obstructions to the pedestrians using the pavement and inconvenience to the public by the protestors and vehicles opposite Temple Trees. The order was issued considering a request made by the Police seeking an order to remove the protestors, claiming that they inconvenience the general public who use the pavements.
However, the court order further stated that it does not impede the protests carried out in a peaceful manner. Delivering the order, the Magistrate had stated that the order would not be an impediment to peaceful protests carried out in a manner that does not cause inconvenience to the public.
The Magistrate also issued notices to the Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of the Kollupitiya Police and the Attorney General (AG) to appear before the Court and give an explanation regarding the non-implementation of the Court order which was earlier issued to remove the unauthorised tents erected by protestors and buses parked on the pavement in front of the Temple Trees. Following a motion filed by the respondents, the Magistrate issued notice to the OIC of the Kollupitiya Police and the AG to appear before the Court on 9 May.
Noting that the Police had obtained a court order to remove the unauthorised constructions and buses parked on the pavement in front of the Temple Trees, alleging that they were obstructing the public, the attorneys who appeared for the respondents informed the court that the said order, however, has not been implemented.
The lawyers told the court that the freedom of expression of the public is enshrined in the Constitution itself, that the public are not inconvenienced by the protesters staying at the venue, and that there would be no acts of violence. They also requested the Court to issue an order to revoke the order obtained by the Police by presenting false information before the court.
After considering the facts, the Magistrate stated that it was necessary to consider the facts of the complaint and therefore summoned the Kollupitiya OIC and the AG on 9 May.
The Kollupitiya Police had obtained the said Court order on 2 May, naming Vimukthi Dushantha Gunasekara, Roshan Ali Bakir Ali, Ven. Puliyakulame Sumanaratne Thera, and Ven. Ambatenne Wimaladassa Thera as respondents.
Attorneys-at-Law Achala Seneviratne, Senaka Perera, Amila Egodamahawatte, Amila Palliyage, Sandamal Rajapaksa, and Prasad Perera appeared for the respondents.The “MynaGoGama” protest zone saw a large number of protesters daily since its inception nearly two weeks ago. Many protestors who were engaged in the protest zone named “GotaGoGama” at the Galle Face Green, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the Government, too joined the former protest zone carrying canopies and tents on their shoulders on 1 May.