The country’s apex business chamber, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) expressed deep concern over the police brutality on HNDA students which took place last week.
This is the first time that a trade chamber is releasing a statement on situations of such nature.
“The CCC believes that it is the responsibility of the government and above all the law enforcement authorities to act with utmost responsibility, respecting the principles of democracy and the rights of the citizens for freedom of expression, peaceful protest and engagement with the authorities, which are the fundamental ethos that the people of this country voted for and wanted to restore under a common banner of “Yaha-palanaya”, on 8th January 2015,” the statement said.
CCC called on the government not to repeat the same tactics which had fostered disharmony, discontent and mistrust in the past, and to let any citizen in the country express their displeasure over any situation without being obstructed by the police.
However, CCC said that the students should have presented their grievances to the authorities in a peaceful and a more responsible manner without being misled by a few extremist politically motivated elements.
“One should even for a moment, not forget that those who are protesting are the youth of this country and the next generation of leaders, eagerly seeking their rightful place in the society. It is the bounden responsibility of all concerned to engage them with due respect and address their grievances, before they become a major problem,” the statement added.
Therefore, CCC urged independent commissions—especially the Police Commission and Commission on Human Rights—to look into matter and if there are any violations of the law, to take necessary action.
“We respect that it is the duty and the responsibility of the police to maintain law and order and protect public properties, but this must be done with utmost responsibility and restraint using the least amount of force and within the law,” it added.
CCC said that the country had seen too much violence and destruction over the past several decades and experienced the socio-economic repercussions of such actions.
“Therefore, we believe that it is high time that the government and the bureaucracy think new ways of engagement with all segments of the society to solve the many burning problems that were neglected and put aside for decades, building confidence and hope amongst the citizens,” it added.
CCC said that the recently adopted and published 10 principles which will be instrumental in developing the country’s economy includes ‘good governance, policy stability and regulatory quality’, ‘national integration, harmony and inclusiveness’, and ‘demand-focused education and skills development’, which will be crucial for preventing such incidents.