By Shamindra Ferdinando
Following President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statement in parliament that the armed forces would be deployed to suppress further unauthorized anti-government protests aimed at overthrowing his government, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said yesterday (24) that the representative UN resident Hanna Singer-Hamdy was quite pleased with the way law enforcement has controlled recent opposition protests.
Minister Alles said it when The Island asked the SLPP national list legislator the outcome of his meeting with the senior UN official at his ministry on Wednesday (23).
The minister said the UN official appreciated the police response to the November 02 opposition demonstration which was blocked near the technical junction of Maradana. Asked to explain, Minister Alles said that the police had refrained from using water cannons and tear gas and had dispersed the crowd although a large crowd had gathered at the request of political parties and unions.
The tete-a-tete took place at the ministry where they exchanged views on a series of public protests over the past few months. Ministry spokesperson Akila Tennakoon quoted the UN official as having assured Minister Alles of the continued UN support for ongoing counter-narcotics operations as well as assistance to non-governmental organizations. (NGO).
Responding to another question, Minister Alles pointed out that President Wickremesinghe reiterated in parliament on Wednesday (23) the government’s position on the protests. “We have said it many times. Unauthorized protests will not be permitted under any circumstances. There is absolutely no change in this position,” said Minister Alles.
Alles is the fourth lawmaker to deal with public safety since the last legislative elections. Chamal Rajapaksa, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera and Prasanna Ranatunga managed the public security portfolio before Tiran Alles was appointed.
Demonstrations intended to disrupt public life and the economy would not be tolerated, Minister Alles said, adding that the UN resident representative’s comment indicated the international community’s response to the developments here.
The meeting between the Minister of Public Security and the Resident Representative of the UN took place following the revelation by the media that the SSP GH Marapone, in charge of the Colombo South division, refused to apply unauthorized guidelines. The reports follow a meeting Minister Alles had with senior police officers, including IGP CD Wickremaratne, on November 15. Civil society activist and lawyer Nagananda Koditiwakku, while appreciating the stance taken by SSP Marapone, urged law enforcement authorities not to follow the illegal orders issued. by the government.
SSP Marapone declined to comment on the issue in question. The official suggested that The Island contact the police spokesperson. When Minister Alles questioned the police’s inability to arrest former MP Hirunika Premachandra engaged in a protest outside the UN, Colombo, the SSP, South reportedly explained that there was no basis for arrests. The IGP, too, pointed out that arrests outside the UN, in Colombo, could have caused problems.
The recent arrest of two women demanding the immediate release of those who had been remanded under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Panadura, although ignored earlier by the Kollupitiya police, had also been discussed during the meeting chaired by Minister Allès.
SSP Police Spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said the issue under consideration was discussed at the conference chaired by the Minister of Public Security and the officer concerned responded to the issues raised there. Lawyer Thalduwa said the former MP and 14 others were arrested after blocking police from Cinnamon Gardens on November 14. They were released on bail by Colombo Chief Magistrate Nandana Amarasinghe. They were released on cash bail of Rs. 10,000 and bail of Rs. 5 million each. The case was then adjourned to February 13, 2023.