Amnesty, AHRC, CPA call for independent probes

Wednesday, 7 August 2013 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

As the small town in the Gampaha District continues to reel from last Thursday’s violence, Amnesty International, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Centre for Policy Alternatives have called for impartial investigations into the clashes in Weliweriya that left three people dead and wounded dozens. “The Sri Lankan authorities must not allow the Army to investigate itself over allegations of excessive use of force by its members after three protesters demonstrating over access to drinking water were killed over the weekend,” Amnesty International said in a statement. “The Sri Lankan Army should have never been policing unarmed demonstrators in the first place and having them investigate their own alleged abuses is simply ridiculous,” said Polly Truscott, Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International. The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) said this was not the first instance in post-war Sri Lanka of unarmed citizens exercising their democratic right to protest being tear-gassed, fired upon and killed by the security forces. The CPA statement demanded answers about who will answer to Parliament about the alleged orders to shoot and raised questions about the operational chain of command. “These incidents of the killing of unarmed citizens – and in the Weliweriya incident, two young students reportedly not directly involved in the protest – are tragic and shameful reminders of the collapse of the rule of law in our country,” it said. The Asian Human Rights Commission called for the arrest of the commanding officers in charge of controlling the public demonstration in Rathupaswela. “Nothing less than the immediate arrest of the commanding officers would demonstrate that there is any sanity left in the military system in Sri Lanka,” the AHRC said in its statement.  The AHRC said the Government should have acted long before people came to the road; they should have intervened and given people alternate ways to get water before anything else.