SRI LANKA: Video showing the attack on students 

The attached video shows how the police in Sri Lanka are dealing with student protests. Hundreds of policemen surrounded the students and a group of students were forcibly put into a police van and taken away.

Further pictures show the police using tear gas and water cannons to disperse the students. For the article and video please see here:

The video also shows the students trying to explain to the police the legitimacy of their protest. They tell the policemen that it is their right to education that is being attacked and that these policemen, who may be having children or other family members who are students, will soon know the consequences of cutting down the educational facilities, which is what the students are protesting in order to prevent.

The policemen, acting on orders from above, have forcibly removed the students who have gathered around the Grant Commission, which is the highest body exercising power over higher education. The students are there to protest against severe cuts into the education budget and other problems affecting the student population in Sri Lanka.

They have been conducting their protest peacefully. The attacks on peaceful demonstrations have become a common feature in Sri Lanka.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the attack on the peaceful demonstration of the students and states that it is the duty of the state to listen to the demands made by the students and to negotiate with them in a peaceful manner. The breaking of peace has been done not by the students but by the law enforcement agencies, which are obviously acting on orders from above.

It is clearly the right of students to demonstrate peacefully, and a proper study of the circumstances clearly shows that the protest of the students is fair and legitimate. It is the government that is attempting to impose severe restrictions on education, with the view to limit state expenditure on education and to commercialize education.

In Sri Lanka, since the mid-20th century, free education has enabled students from less privileged sections to obtain higher education. It is this that the students as well as the lecturers have felt is under threat. Both the students and the lecturers have been making their demands and protests for over several months. However, the government does not show any willingness to negotiate and settle the matter in a fair manner.

The Asian Human Rights Commission calls on everyone to express their solidarity with the students in Sri Lanka.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-174-2012
Countries : Sri Lanka,
Issues : Freedom of assembly,