Trade unionists ready for a new fight against “repression” | Print edition

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By Yoshita Perera

Protesters converged on Nugegoda yesterday, heralding a new wave in their campaign against the incumbent government which they say lacks the people’s mandate to rule.

This is expected to culminate in a nationwide protest in major cities and towns on August 9.

Trade unionists organized under the banner of the Coordinating Committee of Trade Unions, which represents a wide range of public and private sector workers, and their allies, including political parties, student unions, are demanding the immediate dissolution of parliament, which, according to them, is one more cause of anarchy in the country.

Unions in the foreground: Scene in Nugegoda last night. Photo by MA Pushpa Kumara

Wasantha Samarasinghe, co-leader of the union collective, said the crackdown will not stifle the protest campaign.

Joseph Stalin, general secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union (CTU), was arrested on August 3 for violating a court order and remanded in custody until August 12 by the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. He was arrested last Wednesday night at CTU headquarters and held for nearly 24 hours for questioning.

Police say Stalin violated a court order on May 28 during a protest march on the Bank of Ceylon Mawatha in Colombo Fort.

Trade unionists demonstrated early Thursday outside Fort station against what they called the “illegal arrest” of Mr Stalin and other protesters.

Nearly 100 people gathered demanded the release of Mr. Stalin and other demonstrators, chanting anti-oppression slogans against the government of President Wickremesinghe.

“The people of this country are taking to the streets to protest against this corrupt and conspiratorial regime. However, from today, the police are arresting protesters, which is undemocratic and should be stopped immediately,” according to Mahinda Jayasinghe, General Secretary of Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU).

Their main demand is the dissolution of parliament – ​​which they say is the source of all the country’s current problems – and the immediate holding of legislative elections.

Tens of thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and artists marched along Galle Road in a protest march on May 28. Saman Ratnapriya, the current trade union adviser to President Wikremesinghe, also took part in the protests that day.

“It was very clear that not only the United National Party (UNP) supported this May 28 demonstration, but also had the blessing of Mr. Wickremesinghe,” said Ravi Kumudesh, co-organizer of the Trade Union Coordination Center.

Hundreds more have already been arrested for causing damage to public property during months of protests that culminated in the storming of the presidential residence on July 9, when then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stormed. fled to the Maldives and then to Singapore, from where he sent in his resignation.

Meanwhile, it emerged in court on Friday that the unexplained Rs. had been handed over to the Minister of Public Security Tiran Allès.

Colombo Fort Magistrates Court heard that SDIG Deshabandu Tennekoon had advised the Fort Police OIC to send the money to Mr Alles, instead of handing it over to the court as required by law .

The court had previously ordered a report on the process of handing over the 17.5 million rupees by July 27.

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