Sri Lankan Prez Makes U-turn on Order Declaring Key Govt Buildings in Colombo As High Security Zones
Posted on October 1st, 2022

Courtesy News18

Wickremesinghe’s U-turn came amid sustained pressure from the principal Opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, which filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe issued an extraordinary gazette on Saturday, revoking last week’s order that declared several key locations in Colombo as high-security zones, after sustained pressure from the Opposition and the country’s human rights watchdog condemning his move. On September 23, Wickremesinghe declared the Parliament, Supreme Court complex, and the President’s Secretariat among others as high-security zones, and banned any kind of protest or agitation near its premises.

The move, which many see as a throwback to the restrictions imposed during the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) days that saw suicide explosions at such key locations, prevents even the parking of cars near the vicinity of key government buildings. 2299/71 dated today, President Wickremesinghe states that he was revoking the said order, according to an extraordinary gazette notification issued by the Presidential Secretariat on Saturday.

In a notification issued on September 23, the President’s Secretariat declared key government installation localities as high-security zones. Areas around Parliament, Supreme Court Complex, High Court Complex in Colombo, Magistrate Court Complex in Colombo and Attorney General’s Department, Presidential Secretariat, President’s House, Sri Lanka Navy Headquarters, and Police Headquarters have been declared as high-security zones, the notification said.

It also includes the Ministry of Defence and Sri Lanka Army headquarters located near parliament, the Sri Lanka Air Force headquarters, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Temple Trees prime minister’s residence, and the Official Residences of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and the Commanders of the Tri Forces, it added. According to the notification, protests and public gatherings in the areas declared as High-Security Zones are banned while vehicle parking won’t be allowed in the vicinity of any of the designated locations.

Wickremesinghe’s U-turn came amid sustained pressure from the principal Opposition, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, which filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the order. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka also condemned the move and called it illegal.

Significantly, some of the designated locations were the sites for large public agitations against the Rajapaksas for their mishandling of the country’s economy. Anti-government protesters are now getting arrested for unlawful entry to these key areas and the government’s use of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act to keep them under detention has also come under criticism from several international rights groups.

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