Colombo (Sri Lanka), August 29th:
Education Rally attacked by Police
while Teachers Strike
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) organized a strike that already started on July 4. It brought the higher education system on the island to a standstill. In a nutshell the teachers fight for:
- 6% of GDP to be allocated to public education;
- increasing wages;
- more academic freedom;
- freely accessible education.
In reaction the government decided to close 15 campuses and six other institutions indefinitely in mid August. A rally organized by University lecturers demanding the government to protect free education was held at Hyde Park in Colombo (Sri Lanka) on August 23. Trade unions representing teachers and principals, parents’ associations, organizations of intellectuals and members of several trade unions of the water, electricity, railway, and health sectors also participated in the protest march which disrupted traffic in the capital. [groundviews.org]
In reaction to this situation around 3,500 university students from across the island took streets of Colombo on August 29. They want to pressure the government to give in to the demands of the striking teachers and re-open the universities again. The protesters were met with tear-gas as well as water cannons (mixed with ammonia) and were attacked by riot police.
The students were shouting slogans and demand the state to protect free education. In reaction to the police violence protesters hurled stones back at them. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured during the clash, although many students suffered burning sensations in their eyes. No arrests were recorded.
Regardless of pouring rain, the students rallied on a main road and were addressed by a number of undergraduates who spoke about the closure of universities and how it affected them. Also addressing the rally were activists involved with the Inter University Students’ Federation (IUSF), Inter University Bhikkhu Federation (IUBF) and Inter Medical Faculty Students’ Action Committee.