Sri Lanka Police harass Colombo Action Committee members and seize campaign material 

By Sanjaya Jayasekera.

Sri Lanka police today questioned one comrade of Colombo Action Committee (CACPS) and later in the day took into custody its campaign material upon a court order. 

CACPS members were engaging in a leaflet distribution campaign today (24) morning in Piliyandala town area. They were distributing CACPS latest statement (in Sinhala) titled “Defeat the state terror unleashed against the masses, including the oppressed youth, in the name of “Operation Yukthiya”! Around 9.45am in the morning, Piliyandala police stopped one comrade who was distributing leaflets to people and escorted him to the police station. Inquired as to why he was brought to the police station, the Officer in Charge (OIC), informed CACPS members that the leaflet contains material “insulting the police” and that the police want to conduct an investigation over and around the leaflet.  Police recorded a statement from the comrade and was released within about an hour.  

CACPS members campaigning in Piliyandala town on February 24, 2024

In the evening around 4.45pm, a team of police officers including the OIC of Kesbewa Police arrived at the residence of Comrade and journalist Shantha Wijesuriya, who is the Secretary of CACPS, along with a warrant from Kesbewa Magistrate Court  to search the house for offences under Section 484 and 485  of the Penal Code.  These purported offences respectively are intentionally insulting with intent to provoke a breach of peace, and circulating false reports with intent to cause mutiny or an offence against the republic or public tranquility. The police seized around 500 leaflets containing the CACPS statement and several dozens of posters and placards that had been prepared for use at the demonstration, to be held on February 27 in Kesbewa town, organized by the CACPS and Kesbewa Action Committee, on the theme of the statement.

Kesbewa Police encircle journalist Wijesuriya’s residence on February 24, 2024

Yesterday, Wijesuriya was also summoned by Piliyandala police by order of S. Wickremasinghe, ASP, to record a statement over two hours, as part of an “expeditd investigation” over a complaint lodged by him of alleged death theats by a police officer over a bribary complaint, and over another complaint made by his son’s fiancee in respect of an alleged sexual assault by police officers attched to the Kesbewa police. The ASP has already decided and told Wijesuriya that his allegations are false and that he knows that police officers did not engage in the alleged activities!    

While the police have hurriedly initiated court proceedings in respect of CACPS activities, have delayed action against those accused of serious allegations.

These acts of police and of Wickremasinghe’s government are an attack against freedom of expression of CACPS and the oppressed masses, and are intended to intimidate and harass political dissent. Police and the government are attempting to block leaflets reaching the masses and stopping CACPS campaigns. 

We call upon workers, oppressed masses and those who defend democratic rights to condemn this assault on political rights and fight for and demand the immediate halt of harassment of CACPS members and stifling of its political activity by the government. 

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