Moratuwa, Sri Lanka – Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) were violently assaulted by pro-government assailants at the University of Moratuwa, sparking outrage from workers, youth, and academics. Dehin Wasantha and Lakshman Fernando, both dedicated SEP members, were attacked by officials of the Moratuwa university branch of Podujana Pragathishili Sevaka Sangamaya (PPSS), which is associated with the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna.
Wasantha, a university non-academic worker known for his advocacy for workers’ rights and socialism, sustained two fractured fingers in the attack. Fernando, a full-time SEP party worker, was left bruised with a neck injury.
The case was brought before a judge at the Magistrate Court in Moratuwa, who ordered the case to be referred to a mandatory Mediation Board. Despite efforts towards a settlement, Wasantha expressed his refusal to engage in a settlement process, prompting the board to direct both parties to appear in court on May 20.
In response to the attack, workers, youth, and academics from around the world have sent protest letters to Sri Lankan authorities, denouncing the violent assault and demanding legal action against the perpetrators.
Several rank-and-file committees, both local and international, have also voiced their condemnation of the attack, highlighting the assault as a violation of democratic rights and freedom of expression. The Health Workers Rank-and-File Committee in Australia and the Alton Plantation Workers Action Committee in Sri Lanka are among the groups that have expressed solidarity with the SEP members and emphasized the need for legal action against the assailants.
The Northern Province Fishermen Action Committee in Sri Lanka also called for swift legal action against the perpetrators, underlining the broad impact of the attack on democratic rights and the freedom of political engagement.
Furthermore, a health worker from the UK, Ajitha Gunaratne, condemned the attack and urged legal action against the assailants. The widespread condemnation and calls for justice underscore the significance of the incident in the context of democratic rights and freedom of expression.