Sri lanka News – Sri Lanka has promised an impartial and independent investigation into the death of a protester shot by police in the island nation’s central town of Rambukkana, Foreign Minister G L Peiris said on Wednesday (20).
The foreign minister’s pledge came amid international pressure on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government to respect the democratic rights of protesters and intensified protests demanding Rajapaksa to step down.
Police shot dead a protester in the central Sri Lankan town of Rambukkana on Tuesday (19) while 24 were injured including 8 policemen after thousands of protesters demonstrated against fuel price hike and shortage.
The United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Canada, United Nations, European Union, and international rights groups have raised concerns over the shooting of unarmed protesters and called for an impartial probe into the incident.
“We have requested the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into the incident. We want to be honest and we do not want to sweep anything under the carpet,” Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris told reporters in Colombo.
“We will ensure the freedom of expression, freedom of association, and democratic rights of dissants.”
The foreign minister’s comments came soon after he met US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung who met the officials of HRC early in the day.
Sri Lanka has a bad reputation in the past over independent and impartial inquiries into alleged crimes and human rights violations involved with state actors including police, ruling politicians, and military.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a tweet said Sri Lankan citizens’ right to peacefully protest will not be hindered.
“Sri Lanka Police will carry out an impartial and transparent inquiry regarding the incident at Rambukkana which led to the tragedy for which I’m deeply saddened. I urge all citizens to refrain from violence as they protest,” Rajapaksa said.
The statements by the president and foreign minister came as a Sri Lankan delegation led by Finance Minister Ali Sabry is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan to address the ongoing economic crisis.
Sources who are aware of the IMF discussion said political stability is mandatory for an IMF programme and an IMF loan will not be feasible if violence continues in Sri Lanka.
Foreign Minister Peiris, however, said the political stability is needed not for the IMF loan negotiation, but for the sake of the country to move forward.
“The government will take action once we get the report from the Human Rights Commission,” he said.
Sri Lanka is facing a political instability after strong youth-led protests had shaken the government. The protesters are demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa and the protests continued for the 12th consecutive day on Wednesday.
Government trade unions and media activists joined the protest on Wednesday with most people wearing black attire to express their displeasure. (Colombo/April 21/2022)