Intelligentsia shocked by actions against FUTA PresidentJune 27, 2012, 10:16 pm
By Ifham Nizam
Intellectuals and trade unions yesterday expressed concern over the recent intimidation and suspicious actions against Federation of University Teachers’ Unions, (FUTA) President, Dr. Nimal Ranjith Devasiri, who is also the Secretary of the Arts Faculty Teachers Union of the Colombo University.
Executive Editor of the Subavitha Magazine Mahinda Rathnayake told The Island yesterday that such tactics were clearly against democracy.
He said that the method of approach to intimidate a University Don sends a clear signal that it was not a personal move against an individual but against those who try to win their rights and work towards justice.
Ceylon Bank Employees’ Union, Vice Chairman, Keshara Kottegoda Withana said that the attempt was meant to send signals suppressing democratic rights which was not a healthy sign. "We vehemently oppose such moves," he added.
He also said that the group of people who had identified themselves as members of the Ministry of Defense, visited the neighbourhood in which Dr. Devasiri resided, and made inquiries about him and his family, in an attempt to intimidate them.
A jeep without a proper license plate was seen parked near his house. The action prompted Dr. Devasiri to lodge a complaint with the Maharagama police, he said.
He expressed hope that the police would take action against those involved in intimidating Dr. Devasiri.
In a letter addressed to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa copied to IGP N. K. Illangakoon, Professor Asanga Tilakaratne, President of the AFTU-CU stated:
"It has been brought to our notice that a group of men claiming to be from the Ministry of Defence have been behaving suspiciously within the neighbourhood of the Secretary of Arts Faculty Teachers’ Union (AFUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith on June 19, 2012. They have questioned neighbours regarding Dr. Devasiri’s movements and details regarding his family. Dr. Devasiri has lodged a complaint with this regard at the Maharagama police Station on 21.06.2012.
"We are deeply concerned about this and request you to immediately launch an investigation into this matter."
Withana also noted that the University Teachers’ Union had been working to improve the livelihoods of university teachers, notably by campaigning for wage increases and improved working conditions. The Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake had publicly opposed those efforts.
Trade unionists and political activists who campaign for wage increases and the improvement of working conditions were frequently threatened, and even, physically attacked, Withana added.
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Last Updated Jun 19 2013 | 12:00 pm