GotaGoGama is a non-partisan protest, open to any political ideology, say young activists | Print edition

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By Yoshita Perera

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Day of Shame: Pro-government mobs attack the Galle Face protest site. Photo by MA Pushpa Kumara

The protests in Galle Face Green, which have lasted for more than a month, are peaceful and non-partisan, and the area is always open to peaceful activists of varying political views, youth groups involved in the peaceful struggle since the first said. day.

On Monday, government supporters attacked non-violent anti-government protesters at Galle Face, sparking clashes.

More than 200 people were injured there and in related incidents, and at least 10 people were killed in several violent incidents that followed.

Anjalee Wanduragala

“The armed forces and the police were at ‘Mainagogama’, in front of Temple Trees, when the attackers were heading towards ‘Gotagogama’ at Galle Face. We pleaded with them to move to the Galle Face site and stop the attack there,” said Anjalee Wanduragala, a university student volunteer at the People’s Power tent, the main distribution and donations tent. at the event site.

The art tent has been rebuilt and to symbolize the destroyed artworks and the efforts of peaceful protesters, artists including Sujith Ratnayake have created a new artwork from the ashes of previous artworks of the tent.

Expressing her displeasure with the behavior of the police and the three forces during the clashes, she added that the police used water cannons and tear gas after the assailants entered the protest site.

“Our tents were destroyed; the majority of the damage was to tents near the SWRD Bandaranaike Statue and the Art Workshop Tent. It was set on fire. The main attack happened at the art tent, and the people there were trying to protect the art and sculpture made throughout those 35 days,” she said.

Anjalee added that the attackers burned personal effects, bags, sleepers and other essentials. “There is clear evidence that the police supported the attackers. Some peaceful demonstrators were attacked by the thugs right in front of the police. The attackers were ready to attack. I felt so helpless at that time because there was no justice or protection for any of us,” she said.

Dr Sanduni Sudarshana Perera

The pro-government protesters (the attackers) were ready to kill people, and these attackers were observed to have some kind of weapon – wooden poles with nails at the end, iron bars and even knives – in their hands, she said.

“They were targeting people on the site, looking at pictures and calling out names. It was very clear that the attackers came to target certain groups, perhaps the youths highlighted worked in the protest throughout the month-long period,” she said.

Commenting on the labeling of the protest as a political platform by some parties after the clash, she added that people were trying to label the entire protest as a one-party political movement after two specific incidents; how opposition leader Sajith Premadasa was attacked at the site while JVP leader Anura Kumara was welcomed.

“Some people are trying to link the above incident to the peaceful protesters at ‘Gotagogama’. I have to say that ‘Gotagogama’ is an apolitical movement, where anyone of any political ideology can come and take a stand. people come into this village as citizens and they can share their opinions peacefully,” she said.

“The country is under emergency law, so how can a group of armed people attack these peaceful protesters?” Dr Sanduni Sudarshana Perera, who volunteers at the protest site, was interviewed.

‘The degree of police protection provided near Parliament when inter-university students protested recently was not provided at Galle Face, it was apparent,’ she said.

Sahan Weeratunga

Some people are trying to hijack the protest site in one way or another, but overall it should be seen as an apolitical move, Sahan Weeratunga said, on behalf of the protesters.

“It’s a non-partisan fight, and at the same time it’s political, so every political party can come and contribute. Some people are trying to take advantage of it, they’re trying to hijack it all in one way or another. No party can become prominent in this struggle, because that itself becomes the downfall of this struggle,” he said.

Peaceful protesters issued an eight-point resolution on Thursday (12) with the collective participation of nearly 60 youth organization groups and 200 individuals. The preparation of the above document started on April 12 and experts were involved in drafting the document.

“I participated in the formulation of the demands. The first and most important is our main demand for the president to resign, this is the basis of the movement. We also looked at several aspects, one of them being human rights violations and the preservation of human rights. Create political and economic stability while creating an environmentally friendly country,” Sahan said.

He added that the protest site Galle Face is a collective that discusses and argues about policy formulation and how to change the current direction of the country on a better path.

“We have a dedicated People’s University tent on the site, and education of people on policy-making is happening there, guided by experts,” he said.

Citizens began protesting in parts of the country more than a month ago, demanding the president’s resignation and ensuring the country’s political stability as the country’s economic crisis worsened, manifesting in severe shortages of essential goods, rising prices and prolonged power outages.

Since then, several protesters have remained firmly at the protest site, sleeping in makeshift tents and under trees despite thunderstorms. Following the riots, the government declared an indefinite nationwide curfew and deployed the army, sending armed troops into the city of Colombo to supplement the already considerable police presence.

CID begins investigation into attacks on protest sites; complaint calls for arrestsThe Criminal Investigations Department is recording statements from activists who were outside Temple Trees and at the Galle Face Green “Gotagogama” protest site on May 9. The CID began recording statements on Friday. He obtained victim and eyewitness statements when thugs brought in buses from provinces to a Temple Trees meeting attacked protesters.

Police media spokesperson SSP Nihal Thalduwa said the CID recorded statements from officers of the former prime minister’s security division and other officials, including the meeting coordinator of Temple Trees and the Officer in Charge (OIC) of Kollupitiya Police Station.

Meanwhile, the union coordination center filed a complaint with police chief CD Wickramaratne on Friday, naming fourteen senior officers and calling for their arrest.

In the police complaint, the trade union collective mentioned that it had been four days since pro-government supporters attacked unarmed civilians peacefully demonstrating in “Gotagogama” and “Mainagogama” on May 9, but that the police did not had still not arrested those who carried out the attack and those who took part in subsequent mob attacks.

The magistrate in Fort on Thursday imposed a travel ban on former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and 16 others, including several former ministers, following a complaint accusing them of being responsible for the attack on peaceful protesters.

Accordingly, the travel ban will apply to Johnston Fernando, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Sanjeewa Edirimanne, Kanchana Jayaratne, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, CB Ratnayake, Sampath Athukorala, Renuka Perera, Sanath Nishantha, Senior DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon, among others.

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