FUTA President Gets Another Threat
By Indika Sri Aravinda
President of the University Teachers Union (FUTA), Dr Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, has been threatened once again, just minutes after he had a press conference and said that he and his family received death threats.
Devasiri told The Sunday Leader that he got a telephone call on Friday afternoon from people claiming to be from the Defence Ministry and threatened to harm his wife and daughter if he continues to be part of FUTA.
Devasiri said that he lodged a complaint with the Kurunduwatte police as he received the complaint while he was lecturing in campus.
Earlier last week a group of people who have identified themselves as members of the Ministry of Defense has visited the neighbourhood of the President of the University Teachers Union (FUTA), Dr Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri and made inquiries about him and his family which appears to be a clear attempt to intimidate him.
A complaint had been lodged at the Mahargama Police station regarding this matter. Dr.Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri is a one of the few outspoken intellectuals who criticises Sri Lankan government regarding it’s unlawful activities. Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri the only university teacher who criticised Secretary to the Ministry of Defence regarding abduction and whitvanning. Speaking about abduction of Prema Kumara Gunarathnam and Dimutu Attigala he said “the fist accused is the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, there is no Secretary of Defence post in Sri Lanka it’s a lie. He is just another secretary to a Ministry. There are lots of other secretaries like him, the only deference is, he is a sibling of the President, he must be questioned. …..”
Meanwhile in a letter written to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and N. R. Illangakoon, the Inspector General of Police, Professor Asanga Tilakaratne, President of the AFTU-CU stated: ”It has been brought to our notice that a group of men claiming to be from the Ministry of Defence have been behaving suspiciously within the neighbourhood of the secretary of Arts Faculty Teachers’ Associations (FUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith on June 19, 2012. They have questioned neighbours regarding Dr. Devasiri’s movement’s and details regarding his family. Dr. Devasiri has lodged a complaint with this regard at the Maharagama Police Station on 21.06.2012. We are deeply concerned about this and request you to immediately launch an investigation into this matter.”
The University Teachers Union has been working to improve the livelihoods of university teachers, notably by campaigning for wage increases and improved working conditions. The Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake, has publicly opposed these efforts.
Trade unionists and political activists who campaign for wage increases and the improvement of working conditions, are frequently threatened, and even, physically attacked. The forced disappearances of unionists and activists who disagree with government officials are a regular occurrence in Sri Lanka. Indeed, last week, a shooting in a small meeting of the JVP led to the deaths of two people.