Police officers are abusing quarantine regulations issued by the Director General of Health Services in order to suppress the people's freedom of expression instead of using it to control the pandemic, the chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Karu Jayasuriya charged.
Although the police have the power to arrest a person on a criminal charge, Jayasuriya said that it should be done in accordance with the law of the land.
"The police have no power to abuse the quarantine law. If a group released on bail by the court is once again arrested by the police on the court premises and taken away by force, it is nothing but an illegal abduction," he said.
Issuing a statement, the former Speaker said:
A wave of repression
Farmers across Sri Lanka continue to protest demanding fertliser for their crops
Today, we as a country are moving in a very dark direction. A wave of repression has already begun. The country's economy is going bankrupt. They are not even free to talk about their sufferings. The failure and incompetence of the government is being passed on to the people.
This country has now been reduced to a state where human freedoms are ignored. Instead of rescuing the people from this pandemic, the government is using the pandemic to suppress the people. The people must stand together and defeat this.
The country’s farmers are facing many problems. The working class have been left helpless, unable to make a living. The youth have lost any faith in the future. As a result, the people have taken to the streets against it.
However, the rulers of this country are taking steps to repress the population instead of providing proper solutions to them.
When any government in the world fails, it usually responds by repressing the population. Unfortunately, our country is in a similar situation today.
Farmers who seek fertiliser for their crops are being forcibly taken away today. Students who come forward to protect the country’s free education are being arrested.
Police repression is being unleashed on citizens who demand democracy.
We have seen many such situations recently. How is the government answering them? A Buddhist monk's robe is highly revered in our culture. But we witnessed how Buddhist monks were dragged away by the police. Older women were treated in a very derogatory manner.
A number of trade union leaders in this country were arrested. You may have seen how Joseph Stalin was forcibly taken away.
Opposition lawmakers alleged that women protestors were dragged violently away by the police with their clothes torn in the process
It is disgraceful how the police even tore the young women's clothes. Such a thing cannot happen in a free and democratic country.
Disregard to the rule of law
It is most serious because all these acts are being carried out illegally in defiance of the existing laws.
The police have the power to arrest a person on a criminal charge but it should be done in accordance with the law of the land.
But what is happening today? It is even abusing the quarantine regulations issued by the Director of Health Services by using it to suppress the people's right to speak instead of using it to control disease.
The police have no power to abuse the quarantine law. If a group released on bail by the court is once again arrested by the police on the court premises and taken away by force, it is nothing but an illegal abduction.
These events are taking place today in broad daylight, in front of a large crowd in the honourable courts of the country.
If this situation continues to develop in this manner, even those standing before the judge may be abducted by the police.
The law of the land is being insulted to such an extent, it is paving the way for an extremely dangerous situation.
This is what happened during the reign of Hitler, the world's most feared dictator, and during the reign of Idi Amin, who once ruled Uganda.
Therefore, the legal community and the judiciary in this country should pay more attention to these events than anyone else.
What use does a judicial system have for a country if the law is being blatantly attacked and court orders are being violated?
Will democracy survive in such a country? This is an extremely dangerous trend. A situation that must be defeated immediately. Otherwise, the future of this country could be even darker, tragic and scary.
We believe that all responsible and caring people, including the citizens of this country, should understand that.
Accordingly, we demand the immediate release of all trade union activists who have been forcibly detained outside court orders. People like Joseph Stalin are internationally respected trade union leaders.
We also need to understand that these events are not a coincidence. It is evident that this is a systematic repression with the aim of eradicating democracy from this country.
The end result is the overthrowing of the people's sovereignty and the building of a dictatorial state.
When we look at what is happening in the Election Commission of this country today, we foresee such a danger.
When we look at the way democracy has developed in our country since independence, although there have been some shortcomings at times, the electoral system has gradually become stronger.
People's confidence in free elections was strengthened steadily. It was a blessing to the entire democratic world. But what is happening today?
Especially after the passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the independence of the Election Commission has come under a deadly attack.
It began with the appointment of political stooges, including ruling party political activists and their office bearers, as members of the Election Commission.
We have repeatedly pointed out the dangers. Unfortunately, even some political parties in this country do not seem to have paid enough attention to it.
We are deeply concerned about this. It needs immediate attention.
The government has appointed political activists to many independent commissions. This is a very dangerous trend.
As far as we know, a number of senior officials serving in the Election Commission are being transferred.
What they are attempting is to expel experienced officials who have been committed to free elections and instead put the entire Election Commission in the hands of people who act according to the whims and fancies of their political masters.
Ultimately this will lead to elections devoid of any freedom and fairness thereby creating an environment where the same group of people can remain in power forever.
All political parties in this country that value democracy as well as election monitoring organisations that are committed to a free, peaceful and fair election process should pay close attention to these happenings.
Otherwise, democracy in our country could be lost.
The freedom and rights of the people can become a mere dream.
People's sovereignty will be limited to the letters printed on the Constitution. This is a grave danger.
I urge all parties to shed their narrow objectives and direct their attention to these events for the sake of this country’s people.