The Sunday Leader

Shoot To Kill Policy

By Nirmala Kannangara in Chilaw – Pictures by Asoka Fernando

Chilaw Erupts and Anthony Fernando a victim of police brutality

The fishing boats along the Chilaw lagoon and fish market were invaded by stray dogs. There was no fish to be sold and the entire locale looked like a desert.
What happened in Chilaw on Wednesday February 15 is reminiscent of what happened at the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake nine months ago.
In May last year when Roshen Chanaka was killed at a protest held over the private sector pension scheme in Katunayake, the government accused the protestors of provoking the police who were there to control the crowd. Later they gave money to Roshen’s family and obtained a court order to advance the funeral through Fr. Christopher Madurawala the Parish Priest of Yatiyana.
In a similar way the government has now approached the family of Warnakulasooriya Anthony Fernando who was killed by the Special Task Force (STF) in Chilaw at a peaceful demonstration by fishermen against the fuel price hike.
Thirty five year old Anthony Fernando was shot in the face by the STF on the Sea Beach Road in front of the official residence of the High Court Judge of Chilaw and the SP’s bungalow.
Senior DIG of North Western Province Pujith Jaysundara had given Anthony’s mother Stella, a cheque to the value of half a million rupees at the Chilaw Hospital.
Stella said that although shehad initially accepted the cheque on behalf of her son’s two children, she had returned it the same day at the request of family members. However Senior DIG Jayasundara denied this saying the cheque was not returned and the payment was made from police reward fund.
Meanwhile a request was made to the Catholic Church to persuade the family to hold the final rites on Friday February 17 instead of on Saturday as p lanned.
Unlike Roshen Chanaka’s family however, the Anthony Fernando family is unyielding and has taken a stern decision not to fall into government traps.
The kerosene and diesel price hike has irked fishermen and they do not have any faith in the fuel subsidy.
“On an earlier occasion too the government promised to give a fuel subsidy but it did not last even for one week. The government pays the subsidy to the boat owners. So what happens to those who go out fishing in rented boats?” Chairman of the Sea Beach Fisheries Committee asked. He added that fuel has to be obtained from Petroleum Corporation fuel sheds, forcing people to travel long distances if there weren’t any close by. As such, Joseph said what was needed was a reduction of prices, not a subsidy.
Meanwhile, Chairman Chilaw Urban Council (UC) Prasanna Fernando said that the families of the injured were also given money by the government.
“The families of those who are warded at the National Hospital Colombo were given Rs. 25,000 each while the other two who sustained minor injuries were given Rs. 15,000 each by the government,” Fernando said. He added that Parliamentarian Arundika Fernando and Provincial Council member Sanath Nishantha had handed over money to the families at the Chilaw Urban Council.
He further said that the government had paid airfare to transport Anthony Fernando’s wife from Dubai.
Meanwhile the fisherfolk said they were assaulted mercilessly by the army and police when trying to take the injured to hospital.
Susantha Kumara (nephew of Anthony Fernando) said that only two people were allowed to carry the dead to hospital.
“We had to obey their instructions. The army and police came and assaulted the third person who carried my uncle. An army  officer and a police officer even assaulted my friend and I with clubs while we were carrying my uncle. We had no option but to leave my uncle’s body on the ground and run for our lives. They then trampled my uncle’s lifeless body,” said Kumara.
Since the police prevented the people from going to hospital to see the dead and injured, the sea beach residents had gone to the town along the lagoon in boats.
Fr. Claude Hyacinth Perera meanwhile said that if not for him, the STF would have killed more people on that fateful day Around 4000 to 5000 demonstrators walked from St. Sebastian’s church to Chilaw in a peaceful demonstration, he said. When they reached the High Court Judge’s residence, the police used water cannons and sprayed water to disperse the crowd. Tear gas canisters were then thrown. Immediately after that, the STF who were near the beach began shooting at people, Fr. Perera said. He added that he had pleaded with them not to shoot but they had ignored him and continued. According to him, had the STF come face to face with the procession along the sea beach road, the number of causalities would have been around 300.
“Now the police are claiming that these demonstrators brought swords, clubs and petrol bombs with them. This is not true. They were unarmed, and it was the police, army and the STF who had live bullets and batons to control the people,” said Fr. Perera.
Although eye witnesses claim that it was the Special Task Force (STF) that sprayed live bullets towards the fisherfolk demonstrators, police is yet to arrest the suspects, Senior DIG North Western Province Pujith Jayasundara said.
When asked as to who gave orders to use live bullets, the Senior DIG said that he knew nothing about it.Asked whether the police plan to impose a police curfew on the day of the funeral, the Senior DIG said that it was not necessary as the situation is under control.
Police spokesperson SP Ajith Rohana said that he could not comment until the inquest is over.

Karu Jayasuriya has been instrumental in establishing two accounts at Commercial Bank Chilaw for the two children of the slain fisherman.
Account No – 8430034973 – Miss. W. Thiputhi Adarika Fernando
Account No – 8430034974 – W. Presith Danushka Fernando

Donations and conributions can be sent to these accounts

7 Comments for “Shoot To Kill Policy”

  1. gamarala

    Will those who “shot to kill” instead of shooting below the knee as has been the practice from the fifties, be charged for murder, or even for involuntary manslaughter? It is reported that the STF shooter has been identified.
    If no indictment is filed soon, the state is guilty.

    • ab

      the state is GUILTY this is yet another occasion when protestors have been shot at with live ammo. the govt did nothing about the previous one and it will do NOTHING about this too. the message is protest and you will be shot. RAJA DEMOCRACY.

  2. suren soysa

    When a person is killed during a protest, it becomes the most peaceful protest in the world & the deceased the most innocent & harmless man or woman under the sun! When UNP killed protesters MR & Co said & did the same. Idiots have no patience to wait till next elections to throw MR out, if he is bad. These silly protests have caused immense suffering to the peaceful public. Any protests on public roads should be prohibited for the Government or the opposition. Burning tyers,boats or anything on public roads should be stopped by using any amount of force. Large parks or grounds should be made available to protesters to have their say,day & night. Police should have a video unit to film every detail of a protest & later pick the hooligans who damage property & punish them in courts. Laws should be strengthened to severely punish such offenders. Any damage to public property need be recovered from the organizers of the protest.

  3. This is similar to 1971/ 1989 suppression. Hi time to to take matters to International courts.

  4. Sinha

    The order to shoot to kill came from the top. The order was given on the previous day when the protesters had protested in the town. Precedent and procedure do not apply to the current top men. The main rule followed in deceit.

  5. Aru

    Why is the government trying to whitewash the police by accusing the protestors of provoking the police? Is there some unknown force that gives orders to the Police and the armed forces to shoot, frighten and kill those who protest against government actions? All these are subtle moves to stifle the voice of people who dare rise up against an arrogant government. The Catholic clergy should not get ensnared by government ploys. They should be content by administering to their flock and not lose their integrity by pandering to the demands of politicians be they catholic or otherwise. IN SHORT THE CATHOLIC CLERGY SHOULD NOT GET INVOLVED IN GOVERNMENT POLITICS – THE CARDINAL SHOULD TAKE SERIOUS NOTE OF THIS. They should bear witness to Christ and not to mortal goons by trying to influence the families of the bereaved as in the Yatiana episode. These so-called law enforcers are shameless if they try to gag the victim’s family members by throwing a few coins at them and exonerate themselves of such despicable behavior. What are a few filthy crumpled notes compared to a man’s life? It is also hilarious to note that this payment was made from the police rewards fund. Was the killing justified and rewarded? This is a democratic state and not a police state and people have all the right to demonstrate against what they feel is unjust. The fisherfolk were not terrorist and dealing with them in an inhuman way speaks volumes about the indiscipline in the law and security enforcement agencies. Assaulting people who were trying to remove the injured to hospital and trampling dead bodies shows the caliber of people among these law enforcers. They should be taught pronto to treat both the living and the dead with respect.

  6. Killed because they asked for relief ; Tunisian fruit-sell​er & Lankan fisherman

    Rob country’s money, take to Hambantota


    Talking ‘Phantom’ terrorism

    The country dont need them, they need the country

    Its time All Sri Lankans unite to expell this evil regime

Comments are closed

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes