Sri Lankan attorney general orders arrest of leaders of mob violence against anti-government protesters | #socialmedia

On the orders of the Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, the Sri Lankan police have begun arresting some 22 leaders of the mob that violently attacked anti-government protesters on May 9.

The 22 persons include former ministers, MPs and local leaders of the President Gotabhaya Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). The attorney general also ordered the arrest of Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Colombo area, Dehabandu Tennakoon, in connection with the attack.

The anti-government campaigners had been occupying the Galle Face Green in Central Colombo for more than a month demanding the resignation of the president and his government and an end to the intolerable hardships caused by soaring prices and chronic shortages of essentials. Some campaigners had also started a protest outside the official residence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse.

More than 1,000 SLPP thugs were bussed from many parts of the country to the prime minister’s official residence where they were whipped up into a frenzy. They first attacked unarmed demonstrators outside the residence then turned on protesters at Galle Face Green down the road. There they smashed up temporary shelters and physically beat up the demonstrators. More than 100 were injured.

Right-wing thug attack on a protest hut at Galle Face Green [Photo: Facebook]

The police stood by allowing the mob to rampage freely across Galle Face Green, only later dispersing the attackers with tear gas and water cannon. None of the attackers were arrested.

In response, thousands of workers and others flooded onto Galle Face Green to oppose the attack and demand the immediate arrest of those responsible. Health, postal and port workers immediately went on strike and many other sections of the working class joined a general strike the following day.

Widespread public outrage has continued to mount over the past week over the failure to arrest and prosecute anyone over the flagrant attack on the anti-government protests.

After dragging his feet, the attorney general finally instructed the Inspector General of Police and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to arrest the 22 persons and produce before the courts.

Apart from Deputy Inspector General Tennakoon, former minister Johnston Fernando, State Minister Sanath Nishantha, MPs Sanjeewa Edirimanne and Milan Jayatilake, and Moratuwa Mayor Samanlal Fernando were among the others to be detained.  

Lankadeepa reported that it had asked whether any action would be taken against Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapakse, who resigned in response to the public outcry over the attack. He has been widely criticised for inciting the attackers.

Reuters journalists in Colombo reported that they had seen people enter the meeting at the prime minister’s residence chanting: “Whose power? Mahinda’s power!”

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