The Progressive Women’s Collective (PWC) condemned yesterday’s  attack by police on the peaceful demonstration organised in Colombo, by the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) against the murder of U.S national George Floyd and accused the Government of being selective in its implementation of law and order.

PWC which is the women’s wing of the National People’s Power (NPP) also expressed deep concern on the Police  assault on  protesters, and the subsequent arrest of over 40 , including about seven  women.

“The right to express dissent is a fundamental right of a citizen and essential to a democratic society. At a time when there is global outrage against police brutality and violence, the actions of the Sri Lankan police today underscore the importance of building international solidarity on this issue, “the PW said in a press release.

The Group said that the issues of torture, custodial death and the use of excessive force by police is not limited to the United States of America and recent events in Sri Lanka remind us all too starkly of the entrenched systemic violence within our own institutions.

“Those arrested in Kollupitiya were simply gathering when they were arrested – that too a small number of people, posing no threat at all to public life. What is the basis on which these arrests were made?” PWC questioned.

The press release added that while the demonstrators were seen taking necessary precautions in the wake of COVID-19, the  police clearly disregarded rules on social distancing when they forcefully bundled demonstrators into packed vehicles, violating the very court order they were ostensibly implementing by preventing the protest.

“It is also extremely clear that the government is selective in its implementation of law and order. The funeral of a prominent former Minister of the Cabinet recently flouted all quarantine rules and a protest by pro-government groups outside the Election Commission on the 8th of June was allowed with no disruption. While we are not at all surprised by what is essentially the government’s suppression of dissent and its disregard for basic democratic principles, it is noteworthy that this government which bangs the patriotic drum at a moment’s notice, is as intolerant of dissent against the United States of America as it is of dissent directed at our own structures,” it said.

The PWC called upon all progressive citizens who cherish democracy and social justice to raise their voices against these attacks on our fundamental rights.