Interpretation of democracy, human rights and the right to protests
Posted on June 29th, 2022

Sangadasa Akurugoda

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Parliament has passed new legislation to have tough punishments for protesters the state government says wish to wreak “economic chaos” on Sydney. Under legislation, people could be fined up to $22,000 and/or jailed for a maximum of two years for protesting illegally on public roads, rail lines, tunnels, bridges and industrial estates. It comes after a string of demonstrations by climate activists last month disrupted operations around Sydney’s Port Botany, the largest container hub in NSW. Members of Blockade Australia staged protests on bridges, roads, freight rail lines and a crane to call for greater action on climate change.

In a speech to parliament, NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said the opposition supported the legislation as it was important “to the safety and security” of NSW. “It is shameful to think that it’s appropriate to disrupt the lives of ordinary people as they go about their business in the pursuit of your own particular aims,” he said.   (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-01/nsw-new-protest-laws-target-major-economic-disruption/100960746)

Apart from blocking public roads, rail lines etc (almost daily) disrupting the lives of ordinary people, protesters in Sri Lanka  went to the extent of occupying  and erecting illegal structures in public grounds for months,  killing a parliamentarian, burning their houses and blocking entries to key government offices. We have observed that politicians, lawyers who talk about human rights and several others (including well known foreign diplomats representing the so-called champions of global democracy in Sri Lanka, notably the current US ambassador in Sri Lanka) are making statements, one after the other, claiming any action against protestors is deeply anti-democratic and violation of their human rights. 

Australia is considered as a country following the western democracy and the said legislation is an example of how they interpret the human rights and democracy when there is a necessity to maintain the country’s economy and to secure the lives of the majority of the ordinary people.

Hence what is important at this crucial stage is to understand the sinister motives of the hidden forces behind the issues we are facing today and to apply pressure on the rulers to take necessary steps, at least now, to restore law and order, similar to what the other countries do to prevent disrupting the lives of ordinary people and furthering the economic disaster.

Sangadasa Akurugoda

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