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SB slams Amnesty for backing protest

2014 Oct 28

Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake today slammed the international human rights group Amnesty International for issuing a statement in support of the university students who staged a protest near parliament recently.

The Minister said that a responsible human rights group like Amnesty International must first study the Sri Lankan university system and be fully aware of the background.

“If they just issue statements they will become a joke and lose credibility. People like this who make irresponsible statements must be given a good knock on the head,” the Minister said.

Amnesty International had recently raised concerns over the police crackdown on students who protested near Parliament, saying it appears to be an escalating effort by officials to curb student activism.

On 21 October, police fired teargas canisters into a crowd of university students protesting near Sri Lanka’s Parliament building, reportedly injuring 20 students, 12 of whom were hospitalized. Water cannon were also used to disperse the crowd.

Amnesty International condemned the attack and called on the authorities to ensure the protection of rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association of all individuals and groups, regardless of their opinions or political affiliation.

Amnesty International is concerned these incidents appear to be part of a wider trend to curb dissent and said that the authorities must protect students and their rights and recognize that all protesters, critics and dissenters in Sri Lanka have a right to express their views without fear of violence.

Dissanayake however said it is the politically motivated students who are blocking freedom of expression and the rights of other students. (Colombo Gazette)

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