Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) stands in solidarity with the protest on November 02
The Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA) stands in solidarity with the political parties, student organizations, trade unions, and civil society organizations that are staging a unified protest in Colombo tomorrow (November 02nd) against state repression and the arbitrary use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Earlier this year, Sri Lanka witnessed one of the most significant social and political uprisings in the history of this country when hundreds of thousands of people supported the aragalaya, demanding a substantive change in the political and governance culture in the country.
While the aragalaya succeeded in forcing the resignations of the Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers, and the President, instead of the anticipated political change, a government led by current President Ranil Wickramasinghe, which succeeded the government of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has unleashed a wave of repression. Hundreds of people have been arbitrarily arrested; the police have attempted to indiscriminately block any form of protest in Colombo, and the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act has been used to arbitrarily detain student activists.
We would like to remind this government that the constitution of Sri Lanka guarantees fundamental freedoms for the citizens of this country. One of these cardinal freedoms is the right to dissent and peaceful protest. However, the government is attempting to use a narrow argument about economic rationality to stifle dissent and denounce legitimate public protests as attempts to destabilize the country and the economy.
However, the government seems to have forgotten that it is due to governance failures by the government that Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis in its post-independence history and that this current government and President are in power because people came to the streets and demanded political change.
While the government wants people to believe that it is effectively managing the economy and that the country is on the road to recovery, the facts and opinions of experts tell a different story. The government is currently engaged in a systematic attempt to suppress the truth, protect corrupt officials and politicians, and grant favors to a select cabal of crony capitalists that it favors. People do not want this corrupt political culture to continue. They are demanding change, and the protest taking place on November 02 is an indication that the aragalaya is emerging again. All over the country, we see micro-level spontaneous protests over issues ranging from lack of fertilizer to loss of livelihoods. These are all indications that the government is deeply unpopular and is failing at governance. The increasing repression the government has had to unleash is also an indicator of this failed governance. Therefore, FUTA demands that the government listen to the people and allow the people to exercise their right to peaceful protest. We urge the government not to interfere in any way with the protest organized for November 02 and would like to reiterate that, as FUTA, we stand resolutely in solidarity with all those agitating for substantive political change in Sri Lanka.