Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Bring in the Guard

In the United States, we have become inured to the National Guard being called out to help quell and control civil disobedience and large scale rioting. I myself remember well being in the middle of one such response--as a resident of the neighborhood affected. As we look around the world we see similar instances of calling on the Army, which brings me to Sri Lanka.

In August, the South Asia Citizens Web gave us this story:
Brutal military force was unleashed in the Weliweriya area of Gampaha on people engaged in a protest demonstration against pollution of water by acidic contamination caused by a glove manufacturing plant.
One person was killed and at least 24 injured due to firing by the military.Two journalists were also injured.Some Police personnel also sustained injuries.

Military personnel are currently scouring the area going from house to house in search of the leaders who organized the protest demonstration. According to beleaguered residents the military has virtually besieged the area.
Is the search for the military or the police to conduct?

Does the military search for "organizers" chill speech?  How does this compare to police searching for those who committed criminal acts?
The army said it had been compelled to fire as the troops had come under attack by those demanding the closure of a factory allegedly responsible for polluting ground water in the Rathupaswela area of Weliveriya.
Once the guard is called and they react, then what?  Is there to be a civilian investigation and prosecution, or?  Ceylon Today [1] tells us a little more for background.
Crime Branch, Colombo, is conducting a comprehensive investigation into the Rathupaswala incident where three persons died due to being shot at by the Army while 33 others had sustained injuries, also due to shooting by the Army. The Gampaha Magistrate will also hold a Magisterial Inquiry on the deceased, and will conduct further investigations including obtaining statements and observations.
Now what, there being allegations of misconduct laid against the Army and some of its personnel.  Perhaps this is to be dealt with as a civilian matter?  But . . .
The recording of Summary of Evidence regarding the Rathupaswala incident upon completion of the Court of Inquiry is still continuing, the army media unit said.
The Commander of the army, after perusing the summary of evidence findings, may convene a General Court[] Martial if the evidence discloses prima facie cases against army personnel.
Reports the Columbo Gazette.
[1] Colonial rule began in Sri Lanka over 400 years ago.  Sri Lanka is the name for the former colony of British Ceylon, before which was a Dutch enclave, and before that Portuguese

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