Trade Union Co-ordination Committee (TUCC) and the Socialist Youth Union (SYU) challenge President Ranil Wickremesinghe by Asking him to expand the holding capacity of prisons in the country and stating that they will continue their protest movement on an even larger scale in the coming days,

BY Buwanajee Coralage

The Trade Union Co-ordination Committee (TUCC) and the Socialist Youth Union (SYU) yesterday (25) challenged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to expand the holding capacity of prisons in the country, stating that they will continue their protest movement on an even larger scale over the coming days, and that a substantially larger number of protestors, more than the 84 arrested last Saturday (24), would be arrested.

The day that the whole nation would join the protests is not long away, declared TUCC and Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe addressing the media at a media conference organised by the Sri Lanka Trade Union Co-ordination Committee yesterday.

“We, as the trade unions of this country, will not be frightened by imprisonment, and they won’t be able to prevent the people rising against these discriminations, so widen the prisons and the police holding cells. We are ready to fight against this unlawful, undemocratic, crude, and cursed rule in this country,” he said.

Condemning the attacks on the civil protests, he requested relevant authorities to release the remanded protestors, including Inter-Company Employees’ Union Secretary Janaka Adikari, SYU National Organiser Eranga Gunasekara, social activist Vimal Katambe, Ven. Koswatte Vimala Thera, and the others who were taken prisoner last Saturday, accentuating that they have not exhibited any action against the Constitution or any law in the country.

“We strongly condemn the attack on the protest. We ask the relevant authorities including Foreign Minister Ali Sabry PC, who is well versed in law, to declare the wrongdoings, or the unconstitutional acts, performed by the group remanded yesterday. We clearly saw many lawyers questioning the Police yesterday on the same regard. The protest took place outside the many high-security zones they declared and, also, it was not against the article 74/1 of the Police ordinance, as it was announced publicly six hours prior, so this was not, by any means, an unconstitutional protest,” said Jayasinghe.

Quoting the Foreign Minister’s speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, he emphasised how freedom of speech is a basic right of the public and that the actions yesterday were definitely not against any rule or law.

Commenting on the declaration of many areas spanning the country as high-security zones, he stated: “It would be better to rename them as ‘unprotected zones’, because these regions strictly do not provide any protection to the general public; rather the opposite.”
Similarly, he commented that the Government should preferably declare the whole country as a high-security zone, emphasising that the day when all the people would join the protest is not too long away, taking into account the extreme conditions people are currently having to face.

“The unbearable cost of living on the people is excruciatingly draining the life out of the general public; students go to school on an empty stomach and faint at schools; the working class cannot manage on the meagre monthly salaries,” he said weighing the reasons embroiling the people.

Furthermore, he stated that President Ranil Wickremesinghe should make note of the fate of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who came to power with a majority vote of 6.9 million, but was ousted by the people through similar democratic protests, so much so that he could not remain in the country. He emphasised that the current President would have to face an even harsher reception from the people due to his recent misuse of democratic rights.
Additionally, SYU National Organiser Eranga Gunasekara addressed the media after being bailed from prison yesterday.

“We would like to declare to ‘Ranil Rajapaksa’ that we never ended the protest, but that it was only a temporary pause. We have now started the second phase of our protests, and he would not be able to block our path or intimidate us by tweaking the Constitution to arrest our fellow protestors,” said Gunasekara.

He emphasised that the President who was not elected by a people’s mandate cannot expect people, especially youth, to be bound to follow any constitutional changes he brings about.

“We have chosen to lead this country in the right direction through democratic protests,” he announced, while highlighting that the authorities should be ready to expand the size of prisons to hold many more protestors, as they would not back down, but return with much more vigour and force to conquer and attain victory through the ‘aragalaya’.”

Meanwhile, three individuals, including Socialist Youth Union (SYU) National Organiser Eranga Gunasekara, who were arrested during last Saturday’s protest, were granted bail by the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

They were ordered to be released on surety bails of Rs. 200,000 each.

A total 82 persons were arrested during a protest held in Colombo last Saturday. Three of them including SYU’s Eranga Gunasekara were produced before court yesterday, while the rest had been released on police bail.

Courtesy:The Morning