Katunayake FTZ workers file FR case against police

Thursday, 30 June 2011 01:58 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S.Selvanayagam

Ten workers of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) yesterday filed a fundamental rights violation petition before the Supreme Court against the impugned police assault on peaceful demonstrators within the FTZ on 30 May.

In their petition filed through their instructing attorney-at-law Gowry Shangary Thavarasha, they cited Police OICs of Katunayake and Seeduwa, Negombo DIG, former IGP Mahinda Balasooriya, the Board of Investment, Army Commander Lt.Gen.Jagath Jayasooriya and the Attorney General as respondents.

The petitioners are Mangala Sampath (labourer), Rohitha (transformer winder), Buddhika Attapattu (machine operator), Dhanushka Sanjeewa (labourer), Anesh Imalka (transformer winder), Thamali Iresha (helper), Nisshanka Wanigasekara (supervisor), Jayatissa (driver), Lasantha Perera (cutter) and Lalinda Herath (helper).

Some of the petitioners have taken part in the protest while other did not. Some of them have been detained too. But all have been injured and admitted to hospital.

In their petitions, they state that Katunayake FTZ is situated in the Gampaha District consisting of 190 hectares of land where there are about 50,000 workers and 84 factories.

They state that on 30 May of 2011, about 600 persons gathered there protesting the “Employees’ Pension Benefits Fund Bill” within the FTZ where there were hundreds of police officers present.

They allege that around 12.03 p.m., the police officers present, suddenly without any warning used tear gas on the unarmed peaceful protest in an attempt to quell it.

They also allege that hundreds of police officers armed with firearms and iron poles charged at the FTZ workers and some police officers allegedly threw stones and other unidentified objects at them while they were attempting to flee. They allege they were critically injured and warded at several hospitals.

They complain, the conduct of the police officers were violative of the legitimate expression of their dissent depriving their right to  freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly as well as their rights to freedom from torture and arbitrary arrest.