President Ranil Wickremesinghe
- Updates diplomatic community on the basis for eviction of occupiers of Presidential Secretariat after several envoys via tweets roundly condemned brutal attack on innocent protesters
- Open-Air Theatre at Viharamahadevi Park, New Town Hall, Hyde Park and Campbell Park being made available to non-violent protests
- Wickremesinghe expresses surprise no diplomat issued a Twitter message condemning the burning of his private residence when he was PM and Acting President
- US Ambassador Julie Chung was told American security officials had evicted protesters when Capitol Hill and Congress were occupied
- Protesters and occupiers were informed in advance on 14, 18 and 19 July to vacate but had not even by 21 July
President Ranil Wickremesinghe has reaffirmed the commitment to upholding the rights of peaceful, non-violent assembly.
He expressed this stance to the Colombo based diplomats at a meeting held on Friday to update them on the removal of the protesters who had been illegally occupying the Presidential Secretariat. According to his media office, President Wickremesinghe stated that both Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, which governs the rights of peaceful assembly, would be upheld by the Government.
The President further explained that the instructions given by the American Civil Liberties Union stated that protesters were not permitted to block Government buildings and interfere with other purposes the property was designed for.
The diplomats were also briefed on the measures being taken to ensure that non-violent protests were allowed to proceed within the city without endangering property or lives. Facilities within Colombo, such as the Open-Air theatre at Viharamahadevi Park, New Town Hall, Hyde Park and Campbell Park were all being made available to non-violent protests.
Addressing concerns regarding the GotaGoGama protest site, it was explained that it had not been removed by security forces, contrary to erroneous social media reports. Furthermore, the participants were also briefed by the Attorney General on the legal avenues being pursued, including producing all those arrested by the Police before the Colombo Magistrate Court, the President Media added.
Other sources said Wickremesinghe told diplomats the Presidential Secretariat was the main administrative building apart from being historically important. Protesters and occupiers were informed in advance on 14, 18 and 19 July to vacate but they had not even by 21 July. Therefore, in the early hours of 22 July the Police and the Army evicted them.
The President had informed US Ambassador Chulie Jung at the meeting that the American security officials had done the same when Capitol Hill and the Congress were occupied.
He also told the meeting with ambassadors that no one condemned the act of arson on his private residences when he was the Prime Minister and Acting President. Surprisingly there was not a single twitter message.
Wickremesinghe comments were an apparent response to scores of Twitter messages from international organisations and resident envoys of several countries in Sri Lanka.
Following the brutal attack on peaceful protesters in the process of eviction which injured several, the UN Human Rights Commission and its Core Group (comprising Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, North Macedonia, the USA and UK), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN, EU, envoys of UK Sarah Hulton, US Julie Chung, Switzerland Dominik Furgler, Norway Trine Jøranli Eskedal, Canada David McKinnon and New Zealand Michael Appleton expressed concern and condemnation via Twitter messages (https://www.ft.lk/top-story/World-raps-SL-Govt-for-brutal-attack-on-peaceful-protesters/26-737837)