Last Saturday, the Sri Lankan defence ministry deployed police and the army to evict 45 families from central Colombo and demolish their houses. Over recent days, police also have been mobilised to remove thousands of street hawkers in Colombo and its suburbs, in Kandy in the central hills and in the southern city of Galle.
When residents refused to leave the area, arguing that they had a legal right to housing, police riot squad members brutally beat them with batons and chased them away. Army personnel deleted photographs of the bashings from journalists’ cameras.
Placing the defence ministry in charge of urban development marks a further militarisation of Sri Lankan society. It is another demonstration that the repressive military methods used against the Tamil population in the north and east during the war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) will increasingly be unleashed against working people throughout the island. Full story...