Sajith wants to start non-violent people’s movement against govt. excesses

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By Akitha Perera

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said Thursday that his party would launch a non-violent protest movement against the supression of the people’s democratic rights.

“We oppose the government’s moves to arrest protesters and dissidents. People have rights enshrined by the Constitution. We oppose anyone who tries to violate these rights,” he said, addressing a press conference, held by MPs from several political parties.

Premadasa said that the people have the right to engage in politics, express their opposition to certain government policies, to protest, etc. However, the government has unleashed a campaign of terror on the people, the Opposition leader said.

“This is a time when everyone should unite. We must come together to fulfill the aspirations of the people. Soon voters will decide whether we fulfill these aspirations or not. We urge the government not to be afraid of public opinion. The government must understand how the people feel. The best way to carry out tough reforms is to engage with the people,” he said.

SLPP MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that people are facing, hitherto unseen economic difficulties. “We are also seeing a breakdown of law and order,” he said.

SLPP MP Chandima Weerakkody said that public protests brought Ranil Wickremesinghe into power. When Wickremesinghe was an opposition MP and the Prime Minister, he spoke of the need to protect the people’s right to protest.

When Ranil Wickremesinghe was an opposition MP, he had condemned the arrest of trade unionist Joseph Stalin, Weerakkody said. At that time, Wickremesinghe said that Stalin was an internationally known trade unionist and that his arrest would have devastating international implications.

“Wickremesinghe mentioned that Sri Lanka might lose the GSP+ concession because Stalin was arrested. What has changed now? The government can’t solve this through violence, this can only be done through discussion,” he said.

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