The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been told in a statement submitted by an NGO that there is no freedom of assembly in Sri Lanka.In a written statement submitted to the 23rd session of the UNHRC which began today, the International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) notes several incidents reported in almost all parts of the country this year which violated the freedom of assembly. In addition, following these peaceful protests, many lawyers and civil society activists who participated, have been threatened and fear for their safety. In Colombo, the NGO says in January, pole bearing goons, allegedly sent by the State, attacked peaceful protestors in the presence of the police. The statement also recalled that on April 12, 2013, a peaceful candle lit vigil organized by the Facebook group Buddhists Questioning Bodu Bala Sena (BQBBS), to be held outside the BBS Head Quarters in Colombo was dispersed by the Police. Participants were threatened and five were arrested before being released due to pressure from others.“The situation is worst in the Northern Province. Incidents of suppression – including those of mass protests by political parties, student groups, trade unions and civil society – have also been recorded from the capital, Colombo, Southern and Central parts of the island. Police have dispersed protests – sometimes violently and even looked on when violent mobs have / threatened to attack protestors; people have been stopped from attending gatherings; court orders are sought, and often obtained, to prevent rallies and marches from taking place; police permission is sometimes outright refused. Many assemblies which are deemed anti-Government are subjected surveillance by the state’s intelligence services,” the NGO said. (Colombo Gazette)

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