Violence at opposition rally

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 August 1999, 22:47 GMT]
A demonstration in Colombo today organised to protest against the Sri Lankan government's failure to honour its election pledges turned violent as Sri Lankan police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The protest had been organised by the main opposition United National Party's youth wing.

The Police claimed the UNP had not obtained permission for the procession and the activites of the main opposition party's youth league in downtown Colombo today were illegal.

Police wielding baton charge demonstrators of the opposition United National Party, to stop them from marching towards the president's office in Colombo.Photo:AP
More than 600 members of the UNP's youth league gathered this morning around 10.30 a.m. at the Fort Railway Station in downtown Colombo to demonstrate.

Later they were blocked by the Police when they tried to go on a procession down Lotus Road.

The crowd of opposition protestors then went to Slave Island where they were dispersed by the riot Police who fired tear gas.

Sources said trouble flared when the demonstrators were stopped by police whilst marching towards the Presidential Secretariat to hand over a memorandum.

Police sources claimed that action was taken as the protestors had turned unruly. They said that some persons in the procession had stoned the Police.

A journalist from the Sinhala news paper 'Hiru' and several protestors were wounded in the melee when the Police dispersed the crowds.

The demonstration comes ahead of large rally planned to be held in Colombo on Saturday by the ruling People's Alliance (PA) coalition to mark its five years in power.

UNP Demo
Police armed with batons and tear gas try to stop demonstrators marching towards the president's office in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, August, 18, 1999. Members of the main opposition party protested against alleged corruption and the lack of follow through of promises by the government. A journalist and several protestors were injured during the baton charge.Photo:AP


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