Good governance water cannon and tear gas used – NFF

Police crackdown near Temple Trees:


By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil yesterday said that Tuesday’s brutal police attack on undergraduates near Temple Trees had revealed the real face of the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

Alleging that the police wouldn’t have used force without a government directive, former MP Muzammil said that those who had been strongly critical of the previous government for using force to crush protests should reveal their position now.

Responding to a query, Muzammil said that the JVP as well as the SLFP should clearly explain their stand on the police crackdown.

Although the JVP hadn’t accepted cabinet portfolios in Premier Wickremesinghe government, it couldn’t absolve itself of responsibility as it remained a key member of the so-called National Executive Council (NEC). In fact, the NEC had been dubbed the key decision making body by members of the government, therefore it would be pertinent to ask the JVP whether it approved of Tuesday’s attack on undergraduates, he said.

Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) organized the protest against the privatization of education and the failure to pay the promised Mahapola dole to deserving undergrads. The IUSF alleged that in spite of an assurance given in the run-up to the Jan.8 presidential election, Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was pursuing an agenda inimical to the free education.

Muzammil said that those Sleepers who had recently switched their allegiance to Premier Wickremesinghe by accepting cabinet portfolios couldn’t remain silent now. Acknowledging that there had been instances where the previous government mercilessly crushed protests, Muzammil emphasized that the NFF always opposed excessive use of power. The army crackdown at Rathupaswela had been a case in point, Muzammil said, adding that those civil society organisations which worked overtime at the Jan 8 presidential election ensure Maithripala Sienna’s victory couldn’t remain silent now.

He challenged JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, to take up Tuesday’s incident at the next NEC meeting. Referring to a recent statement attributed to MP Dissanayake, Muzammil said that the JVP declared that it would review its membership in the NEC in the wake of the SLFP joining the government two weeks ago. Alleging that the JVP had remained with the NEC in spite of the government brazenly violating Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day manifesto, Muzammil said that MP Dissanayake couldn’t turn blind eye to police brutality. Among those who had been attacked by the police were JVP supporters, Muzammil, a former JVP MP alleged.

Responding to a query, Muzammil asserted that the police action could be a rehearsal as the government was aware of Opposition plans for further protests in the coming weeks.

Addressing the media last Monday at Abharamaya, NFF leader MP Wimal Weerawansa warned of large scale street protests unless President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved parliament on April 23 as he promised in the run-up to the Jan.8 presidential election.

Muzammil said that the Colombo-based diplomatic community should advise the new yahapalana government not to crush student protests. Western embassies used to complain at the drop of a hat during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency, he said. Those who defeated the former President to pave the way for a UNP government should realize that that party wouldn’t ever tolerate dissent, Muzammil said. The UNP would never change its style, he said, adding that Tuesday’s operation proved yahapalana was nothing but a slogan in their overall campaign to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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