Peaceful and Unlawful Assembly
Posted on August 14th, 2022

by Lalin Fernando

This is a response to the media, the BASL and foreigners who never give up preaching on how ‘peaceful protesters’ were attacked ‘brutally’ by the Security Forces, especially at Galle Face Green on July. 22. With hundreds of thousands of protesters (Sunday Times Aug . 7) including non-nationals living on charity,, who were the peaceful protesters?

There is a right to peaceful assembly but not to unlawful assembly..Under which law can protesters ‘peacefully’ block access to government buildings or interfere with other purposes the building was designed for? Can they obstruct vehicles or pedestrian traffic or cause a threat to public peace?.Did they not?
Interestingly in the UK the punishment for a public nuisance offence is life imprisonment under laws made eons ago. .So which law, ancient or modern, allowed protesters to occupy the Presidential Secretariat in SL? Was it the same law that allowed protesters to overrun the President’s official residence, the prime minister’s office, set fire to the prime minister’s home, murder persons on May 9 and incinerate 76- 91 homes of MPs etc? Were the people who did so ‘peaceful’, never mind the protests?

An unlawful or any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace may be ordered to disperse by a magistrate or police officer not below Inspector rank and it will be the duty of the of the members of such assembly to disperse (Code of Criminal Procedure Act (No 15 of 1979 Sect 95).Did the protesters do so? Peacefully or otherwise?

Unlawful assembly is one in which those involved behave in a violent, boisterous, disruptive or tumultuous manner. Who else except Ambassador Chung and the media remembers all these protesters being ‘peaceful’? The leaders and associated ruffians were blood thirsty..

Unlawful assemblies can be dispersed with the use military force by a commissioned officer of any of the three Forces acting alone in the absence of a magistrate or Inspector level police officer (Sect 96).The military has not used military force so far. Possibly because Ms. Chung thinks ‘the time is not right just now’. Will she signal the right time? Heaven help SL when she does, knowing how well she knows what ‘force’ is including ‘shredding’.

Public order – a definition
It is an offence to use threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour or display in writing signs, a representation of which is threatening or abusive in the hearing or sight of a person that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Were we deaf and blind from April 22 that we did not see the behaviour of the mobs as ‘threatening’ or ‘abusive’ and in fact by some massive abberation thought they were actually ‘peaceful’?
Who decides which is which? The BASL,the media, Ms. Chung or the police? Why was a magistrate not asked to be present at barricades to decide? Did the sight of ‘ thousands upon thousands’ baying for blood prevent the legal system from functioning through fear and cowardice of those responsible for public security?
The same people who, did not hesitate to castigate, ridicule and insult the police soon after they took office? Who then weighed in profoundly to say the constitution was irrelevant and the government illegitimate helping to creating a state of anarchy? It actually became the popular thing to say so until an Emergency was declared and arrests were made.

Suddenly the Government that had been in a blue funk due to its guilt that made its promise of splendour and prosperity become one of nightmares and bankruptcy, had stood up.,following the example of the present President. Had the BASL taken the place of the judiciary to misdirect the country?
Yes, absolutely no force should be used against ‘peaceful’ protesters or a peaceful assembly in SL .However the time was not long past when mounted police in western capitals laid about with swords (Belgium, France?) to disperse unlawful or not, ‘assemblies’.The Jallianwalla Bagh Amritsar (India) massacre of peaceful protesters (it was a religious holiday) may be forgotten by some but not by Indians

Gen Dyer’s orders to the troops led to 1,200 killed and 1,500 wounded in 1919. Winston Churchill called it ‘intolerably monstrous”.In 2019 Britain ‘expressed regret’ but did not apologise to India..Lessons were not fully learned even 50 years on. .The British in Kenya were intolerable again.The Ohio State National Guard on 4 May 1970 shot and killed 4 Kent University undergrads and wounded nine with 69 rounds being fired by 28 Guardsmen in 13 secs when confronting an unarmed peaceful protests against US involvement in Cambodia.

Some of the dead were only observing the protests from 300 yards.Four million undergrads from universities all over the USA walked out in sympathy.. In 1974 the USA with 7,000 troops and press ganged support from six Caribbean countries invaded Grenada.Why? It had a leftist government supported by Cuba. It is 100 miles from Venezuela. Was this an anti left protest launched by the USA? It ended in a farce .

A mental asylum was bombed by the USAF. USA had 25 troops killed and 59 wounded.The inter force communications had not been tested. It ended with US Navy ships having to call back to their command HQ in USA to inform USAF pilots circling overhead in Grenada about opportunity targets. Grenada had 45 killed in action and 337 wounded inaction (not including Cubans)..

Grenada covers an area of 344 sq kms and had a population of 84,000 in 1993. The 7,000 US troops consisted of two Ranger battalions, the crack 82 Airborne Division and the Rapid Deployment Force! In 1919 the British declared martial law in Ceylon.They shot without judicial trial very many national leaders including William Pedris They panicked thinking it was an uprising against British rule. A Brit officer used to have his breakfast watching the executions. Is it not arrant arrogance and stupidity for the US or British envoys whose countries had enslaved Africans, taken native lands by force and attempted genocide of American Indians to preach to SL on how to deal with protesters?

The British action in dealing with ‘protesters’ in Wellawaya in the ‘Great Liberation war’ (1817-18) laid waste the fertile countryside and killed all males above 10 years of age.This was a catastrophy the effects of which were seen in the insurrection of 1971.The survivors swell the ranks of ‘protesters’ yet The SL Police style of operating by first establishing communications with the mobs is exemplary.Their monumental and enduring patience over the last four months is extraordinary.It has to be highly commended. However, except for the Colombo middle and upper middle class originals (generally) ,and the farmers, teachers, unionists etc were there not at Galle Face Green (GFG) peace hating protesters too? Have they been treated differently for being different?

Were they the followers of the terrorists of 1971?; who later together with the then President who had an entente with them, were responsible for 60,000 death in 13 months 1988/9? .Were they the new shock troops, well fed and generously looked after by the original ‘Aragalists with deep pockets, that attacked the police barriers almost daily in 2022 while the poor people were struggling to find food to feed their families among shortages of other bare essentials?

So what were they actually fighting for? (WHO says 6 million – nearly a quarter of the SL population, mainly children and women) are on the brink of starvation? At GFG who would have believed WHO? Food was in plenty and of all varieties, while drink flowed and dancers did the merry baila and other jigs. It looked so western fun, like a song/drug festival in the West whoever funded it.
The police always, repeat always, attempted at first to communicate with the ‘peaceful protesters’ and pacify them at every demo..They did not threaten.They ended up using water canon and firing tear gas when the barrier toppling thousands of ‘peaceniks’ breached their defences.Surely this last police response could not be correct if the protests were ‘peaceful’? Who did something wrong? The police or the ‘protesters’?

To say that only ‘some’ trouble makers have ‘infiltrated the current’ protesters’ as in one newspaper, is hypocrisy..Were the ‘some’ of those ‘peaceful’ thousands who with years of experience in terrorising especially freshers with savage ragging in all except the Northern and Eastern universities ,(they would not have dared) switched from site to site to challenge and overrun, outnumbered, neutered and emasculated police/military (POLMIL) that had their hands/batons/weapons tied?.When the Presidential Secretariat was taken back in July after illegal occupation, the numbers game was reversed. That took the obstinate ‘peaceful’ protesters completely by surprise.

The ‘some’ trouble makers knew the police would only use tear gas and water canon while the troops sadly acted like dummies. Few doubted that a state of near anarchy prevailed. It grew in intensity with every protest. The law was openly flouted (to the delight of many) by these ‘some’ trouble makers.Was it not their actions in 1988/89 that resulted in 60,000 deaths in 13 months? Does Ms Chung know?.

The killings were limited only to the Sinhalese while massive damage was done to govt. property, administrative machinery and national infrastructure. .The country was nearly shut down by the then ‘aragalists/terrorists’ distributing ‘chits’ and slaughtering anyone who disobeyed them even for keeping lights on in one’s home? Is this their third and final attempt?

However there are laws that protect the citizen’s body and his property and also public property.The police are there to see that these laws are enforced. Sadly they did little if nothing instead during these ‘peaceful’ protests due to poor leadership at national level including some of the top brass of the police.
Was this due to ignorance or fear and possibly due to Western interference and influence Or was it due to threats such as the visit to MOD by the western envoys? There was also the fear of a Geneva backlash.

Ironically it was the new elected by parliament President,hardly a Sando, (but much reviled by many of his former friends, sycophants and beneficiaries). who decided to invoke these laws, now called harsh.If these only knew the provisions of the US Patriot Act they would throw up.The new President during most of his over 40 years as a politician was the knight in shining western dress for the elite in Colombo, especially the middle aged women. Where are they now? Have they not done the SL thing? Desert and abandon when the going turns bad.

The former ex-military Prez disappeared. It may have been out of guilt for the horrible state of the nation under him or by being ill advised as usual..Did they all forget the Penal code? Who advised him on his course of action? Were they the same rotters of boastful academic (Viyathmaga) fame who are now deserting like rats?

The past president had a heroic choice when the final push came to overrun the near naked and ordered to be spastic, defenders of President’s 250 year old House (not ‘Palace’ as the western media likes to dub all non western leader’s houses) .Like General Gordon, vastly outnumbered , he could have faced the mobs alone. Gordon with his Egyptian and British troops near starvation after many months of encirclement, faced the Madhi of Sudan and his Dervish army at Khartoum.Gordon had often said that when God distributed fear he ran short of it when he came to Gordon.

Unfortunately for him the Dervish attackers had dodged God too.They were devilishly brave too They hacked off his head. Gota had probably not heard of Gordon who had a steamer on the Nile just behind his house (not Palace) to evacuate him.He refused. Ironically Gota had a SLN ship ready. He used it, fortunately.
It is now rumoured that Gota may come back to SL. Whenever he does, he may be compared by the fanciful SL media that likened him earlier to Hitler,(SL is a sucker for western imagery) to Napoleon coming back from Elba.Would the Western powers then contrive to send him to Guantanamo instead of St Helena even before a 100 days pass?

As for defending not only Presidents but all citizens Penal code Sec 25 para 89 clearly states that ‘nothing is an offence which is done in the exercise of private defence. Why then did the police not use force to defend the President’s life? Where does it say force cannot be used?. Self defence does not cease as long as the threat to life exists.

This important if not vital aspect of law is skillfully or cunningly not elaborated to the lay person by the countless BASL bulletins .The use of force causing even death is within the law in self defence. Six offences are specified.Who judges what is justifiable or proportionate? Is it the BASL, the media, western envoys ,or the individual (s) in danger?

The security forces (police) opened fire only at Rambukkana after a long, hot, whole day of protests that included stone throwing and attemped arson.The protesters hail from a long established JVP hotbed. Their activities included an abortive attempt at setting fire to the only petrol shed and a lone fuel tanker because there was no fuel!. If a person is killed or injured while the person is exercising his right of self defence he may still be arrested until the case is heard and extenuating circumstances if any are proved.This is not the law of the jungle or of asses .The police and others knew but were not convinced there was a level playing or fighting field. prevailing.

The ‘peaceful’ protesters destroyed 91 (MP Welgama in parliament in July 2022) houses of Govt MPs by arson on 9 May 22 and murdered nine(9) people including one MP whose naked body was dragged along the street .Did Mrs Chun see this? What would the BASL and media have stated if the law as given above was acted upon when the threat manifested itself? Would it be called an exhibition of brute force? Have they seen the very same activists displaying different slogans periodically attacking university students who disagree with them?

Para 90 states self defence covers ‘his own body or that of any other person against an offence affecting the human body.’….. and ‘property’. Any citizen, not only the police can act under that law .The police ordinance too provides legal cover.But the police it would appear were ordered to ignore the law.What was the IGP thinking and why?

Para 95 states the right to private defence ‘commences as soon as a reasonable apprehension of danger to the body arises from an attempt or threat and continues as long as apprehension of danger to the body continues’…So when does reasonable apprehension manifest itself and end? Is it after killing(s) and stripped bodies are dragged along streets or when a threat with paving stones, clubs and steel rods is apparent?

Para 96 covers mischief by fire or explosion … where ‘death or grievous hurt’ may result while para 99 covers Mobs.The same rights of defence applies.
Clearly the police are fully aware of all this as are the Forces when trained for duties in Aid of the Civil’ power .The principles followed are prevention,necessity, impartiality and minimum force..Impartiality is required when 2 mobs confront each other..Red shirts only cannot be the targets! Minimum force is the force applied immediately to stop danger to body or property and not after any bargaining as at the Presidential Secretariat in July 22..It normally starts after non lethal methods have failed. A single live round may be fired at a law breaker.If the danger continues 2 rounds may be fired.If the danger persists, heaven forbid but the aggressor may force the issue, a volley may be fired! The last has never happened in SL The worst example was at Amritsar during British rule in the late 1910s when machine guns were used under the orders of Gen Dyer Hundreds of Indians were killed.Dyer was killed in revenge much later in England.

The original protesters were organised, smartly dressed, well fed and wined, educated, witty, tech savvy They were the people who fashioned the ‘aragalaya’.No one else can claim to have done so . .They were the darlings of the media and an inspiration to the youth in particular. They were generous, helpful and kind to all who joined them. .They were not compromised and used for ulterior ends. People may recall their laudable efforts during the December 2004 tsunami and many candle light and other peaceful protests over the years.

Originally the cry was amusingly Go Gota Go which is a rallying cry at rugby.That was mistaken wit..This changed to ‘Gota Go Home’ even after he had been advised or forced to leave his home, and then ‘Ranil go home’ when Ranil wise cracked ‘I am at home’ .However those who confronted the police (and the military later) in many instances were dangerously violent.They were not representative of the original Aragalists.

The Mirihana protest, peaceful at first ,became violent and then certainly intimidating and threatening when a violent group infiltrated the original protesters, turned off the main road and onto the private road that led to the residence of the former President.Their intent was clearly unlawful and violent and could have included murder ,abduction and arson as subsequently happened with increasing frequency and boldness of the ‘protesters’ ..

What is the response of a house holder if a mob carrying poles, clubs and iron rods assembles by his perimeter wall, baying for his blood? Is he to wait until they scale his wall or should he act in self defence according to the law especially if it is at night? The former course appeared to be the response of, and temporary interpretation of the law by the police.It made the mobs lose fear of the law and its guardians and become reckless.

At the entrance to the Naval Dock Yard Trinco on 10 May 22, TV showed a young woman standing in front of a baying mob , surprisingly in a very mellifluous voice, singing out the refrain, ‘kapapang kapapang’ (cut cut ) and then ominously ‘kayli kayli (pieces pieces).A Sinhala Madame Defarge? The mob were not at a fish market looking to skin fish but were attempting to rush the gates of the Dock Yard, the premier base of the SL Navy and kill the former Prime Minister ..They knew it would have been a step too far had they challenged the Navy.Instead they taunted the Naval guards to entertain the easily cowed and cheap thrilled media instead. The mob attack to storm parliament did not appear to have a single peaceful intention. One JVP leader (not drunk and driving this time) did say they would surround parliament and not allow anyone who did not do what the JVP wanted done,to leave parliament. The stealing of 2 automatic rifles from badly battered troops showed that peace was furthest from their intentions..That was the turning point.The worm had turned. .Have the peaceful protesters now gone underground?Are they cutting off their beards and trimming their hair styles?Are they regrouping? Those 2 rifles must be found quickly. .

That woman in Trinco was not an exception but one of a kind of thousands of unemployable and unemployed rather elderly ‘students’ that launched attacks all over Colombo Fort and surrounding areas, transporting themselves almost magically over long distances while the rest queued 2-4 days for fuel.Who cared whether or how the people got petrol or food or cooking gas?

Why they are/ were called ‘peaceful protesters’ stuns the imagination .They are the same people who switched from one to another barricade encounter.Their leaders remained in the rear, as in 1988/9 when they attempted genocide of the Sinhalese .They have blood on their hands and their thinking is bloody but they masquerade as ‘peaceful’ protesters especially when western media is around. Local media laps them up in mortal fear 24 x 7.So did a western envoy, looking for a political stooge.There are many in SL, if dollars flow.

Were they not screaming obscenities and murderous threats while armed with iron bars and clubs well hidden? Did they at GFG not use force on the leader of the Opposition (9 May 22 – he subsequently dodged contesting the Presidency?!) and gave a former minister, who had produced 2 IRCs at a TV interview in 2019, a taste of the same on 9 July ?

RW correctly asked the US envoy,who declared her admiration if not undying affection for the JVP, whether force was not used by US security officials on the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol building .He also asked where else in the world would attacks on a President’s office take place without a law enforcement response..He should have also asked what level of force was used on Sadr city protesters in Iraq who were confined in Abu Graib prison and what type of protest the villagers of Mai Lai were doing when Capt Calley (who was never incarcerated as a consequence) and his men murdered and raped the entire village.They killed all the dogs and cats too. South Korean troops were allied to the US forces then to fight the Vietnamese. Or he might have asked why tanks, helicopters and 2 battalions of Air Mobile troops were used to murder hundreds and wound thousands in Gwanju South Korea in 1980. Chung added a caveat.,She said the time was not right just now for strong arm tactics.So when will that correct time be and who will say so ? Is she trying to outdo Mr.Dixit?

Unsurprisingly no regional country criticized SL Thank you brothers and sisters.· The SL Police have acted with sufficient if not overwhelming restraint quoting law and doing their best to solve the continuing impasse, peacefully.They, after negotiating and pleading with the recalcitrant ‘protesters’ for 3 days, used only minimum if any force to execute a written order of the Fort magistrate to vacate the Presidential office which they had trespassed .That was their duty. Brutal force by police is most evident not in SL but where ‘Black Lives matter’ as the whole world knows.

Who set fire and destroyed RW’s house together with those of his brothers and his library and the dogs? Why were RWs brothers’ houses termed ‘neighbours’ houses by the media? Was the whole family a target . Were the attackers a foreign legion or the spearhead troops of the protesters?.Why does the JVP deny gleefully that it was they that did it? Are they pointing fingers at the FSP as everyone else does? Which lunatic calls the FSP ‘peaceful’? What was a leading opposition politician’s sister adding to the the baying by the mob?

How does one distinguish between ‘peaceful’ and violent’ in these circumstances? Has one to wait until foul deeds including murder and arson take place? The law clearly states that once a threat manifests itself, action according to the law, including use of force, is permissibleThe most important question is whether,after a corrupt, ineffective, weak, disgraced etc Govt fails, even as a global recession sets in,and the Ukraine war continues ,is it to be replaced, out of fear of retaliation, by local experts in terror ? Where is the cash coming from to steady SL? According to Sajith P in May 22, Saudi Arabia promised him oil.He has not repeated this very silly statement.The IMF is the only hope SL has. SL should ensure China chips in by restructuring her loans and with out right grants in addition to what India has unhesitatingly and generously given. SL has a very delicate balancing act to perform to ensure our historical Asian benefactors continue to help.She has to be sincere in all she does She should never try to play one against the other.That would be suicide . It will however be difficult for the West not to try to exploit SL at this time.

Pray for SL less the politicians, media, BASL and western imperialists who think they are the reincarnation of Gods.

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