Moratuwa, Sri Lanka – Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka were violently attacked by pro-government thugs at the University of Moratuwa, prompting widespread denouncement from workers, youth, and academics.
Dehin Wasantha and Lakshman Fernando, both prominent members of the SEP, were targeted by the president and secretary of the Moratuwa university branch of Podujana Pragathishili Sevaka Sangamaya (PPSS), which is affiliated with the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna. The attack occurred while they were campaigning with other party members near the rear gate of the university, promoting upcoming SEP public meetings.
Wasantha, a dedicated university non-academic worker and staunch advocate for workers’ rights and socialism, suffered two fractured fingers as a result of the assault, requiring nearly a month of medical leave. Fernando, a full-time SEP party worker, was left with bruises and a neck injury.
The case was brought before a judge at the Magistrate Court in Moratuwa on January 8, and the magistrate ordered the case to be referred to a mandatory Mediation Board, with a follow-up court date set for May 20. However, Perera and Piyawardena chose to seek a settlement, which Wasantha refused, leading to a directive from the board for both parties to appear in court on the specified date.
The SEP and its affiliated parties within the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) mobilized a campaign in defense of Wasantha and Fernando, garnering support from various organizations and individuals around the world.
In response, workers rank-and-file committees in Australia and Sri Lanka, as well as a health worker in the UK, sent protest letters to Sri Lankan authorities condemning the attack and demanding accountability for the perpetrators. The Health Workers Rank-and-File Committee in Australia passed a resolution opposing the assault, denouncing it as an attack on democratic rights.
Similarly, the Alton Plantation Workers Action Committee in Sri Lanka condemned the assault, emphasizing the targeted members’ role in defending workers’ rights and calling for legal action against the assailants. The Northern Province Fishermen Action Committee in Sri Lanka also strongly condemned the attack, stressing the impact on the SEP’s democratic right to engage in political activities.
The solidarity and outpouring of support from various organizations and individuals underscore the significance of defending democratic rights and advocating for justice in the face of political violence. With these efforts, pressure continues to mount on Sri Lankan authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable and ensure the protection of democratic freedoms for all.