Use of armed forces to supress civilian protests despicable – BASL

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has “strongly and unreservedly” condemned the use of force and violence last night by the authorities in attacking protestors at Galle Face in the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat.

The remarks came after the Army, the Police and the Special Task Force (STF) stormed the Galle Face protest site last night without prior notice to clear the protesters of the Presidential Secretariat premises.

It is apparent that hundreds of military personnel and police had blocked the access roads to Galle Face and prevented the public from entering the area, BASL president Saliya Pieris, PC said in a statement.

Attorneys-at-Law who tried to enter the area have been prevented from doing so by forces personnel, he added.

The BASL says it is informed that at least two lawyers who sought to intervene in their professional capacity were assaulted by the troops. “Video footage also shows unarmed civilians being assaulted by the security forces.”

The BASL also noted that it is aware that there have been several persons arrested by the armed forces, including at least one lawyer and several journalists.

The BASL accordingly called for an immediate halt to the “unjustified and disproportionate actions” of the armed forces targeting civilians.

The BASL urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to ensure that he and his government respect the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights of the people.

“The use of the armed forces to supress civilian protests on the very first day in office of the new President is despicable and will have serious consequences on our country’s social, economic and political stability.”

The association called for an immediate inquiry into the incidents and for disciplinary action against all persons involved. “All those involved including those who gave orders on the same must be held accountable,” the statement read further. – ada derana

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