158 academics in the West condemn violent assault on protesters in Colombo by security forces

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London, July 26 (newsin.asia): 158 distinguished academics from the West, mostly South Asian, have strongly condemned the violent assault on peaceful protestors in Colombo by the Sri Lankan security forces on July 22.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, they said that they were aghast at reports that five of the protestors were abducted and tortured by the security forces.

Here is the statement in full:

We, the undersigned academics who work on Sri Lanka and South Asia more broadly, fully condemn the violent assault on peaceful protestors in Colombo by the Sri Lankan security forces on 22 July 2022.

We are aghast at reports that five of the protestors were abducted and tortured by security force personnel; violently beaten, forced to kneel on rocks and perform extremely tedious exercises whilst being threatened with death if they tried to escape. Nine protest leaders were also arbitrarily arrested and detained by the police.

That such a brutal attack against non-violent protestors was ordered by the country’s new President Ranil Wickremasinghe, less than 24 hours after taking office, is shocking and sends distressing signals of his method of governance. Over the last several months the protestors have been inspiring and disciplined in exercising basic democratic rights to call attention to the crisis. This space for resistance has also been used for educational purposes, with a university and library, advancing knowledge to all groups of people. The reference to protestors as “fascist” is totally inaccurate, inappropriate and damaging; it weaponizes the term to provide an excuse for the use of extreme force. Wickremasinghe was elected by parliament to take on the presidency, which was vacated due to the non-violent pro-democracy movement against authoritarianism and failed governance. His decision to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors is deeply alarming and does not offer the prospect of Sri Lanka progressing beyond the current crisis it is in. It is disheartening and telling that one of his first actions in office was to attack the people rather than take steps to address the suffering of the people.

We call on the President and government of Sri Lanka to immediately desist in the use of any force against protestors and reduce the current extreme military presence around the protest site at the Galle Face Green in Colombo and around the country including the north and east. The government must investigate the use of extreme force and torture and hold accountable those found guilty of committing these crimes. We call on the government to respect the right of all Sri Lankans to protest and protect protest spaces. The Sri Lankan constitution guarantees Sri Lankans fundamental rights including freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly; in addition, these are internationally guaranteed rights which Sri Lanka is committed to protect.


Dr. Farah Mihlar, Lecturer, University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Vasuki Nesiah, Professor of Human Rights and International Law, The Gallatin                   School, New York University, USA

Kanchana N Ruwanpura, Professor of Human Geography, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Professor David Ludden, Department of History, New York University

Arjun Guneratne, Professor Anthropology, Macalester College, U.S.A.

Dr. Ashwini Vasanthakumar, Associate Professor, Queen’s Law School, Canada

Dr. Cheran Rudhramoorthy, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Canada

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada

Prof. Dr. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. Neena Mahadev, USA

Sharryn Aiken, Associate Professor, Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Canada

Mark Balmforth, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada

Suresh Canagarajah, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics and English, Pennsylvania State University, USA

Professor John Harriss, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Yalini Dream, Visiting Artist, University of San Francisco IME and Human Rights Education, USA

Dr. Nalika Gajaweera, Los Angeles, USA

Patricia Jeffery, Emerita Professor, University of Edinburgh

Neil DeVotta, Professor, Wake Forest University

Dr. Narayani Sritharan, Global Research Institute at William & Mary, USA

Pradeep Sangapala, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Canada

V.V. Ganeshananthan, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota, USA

Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham, Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Colgate University, USA

Roger Jeffery, Professor of Sociology of South Asia, University of Edinburgh, UK

Mythri Jegathesan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Santa Clara University, USA

Veena Das,FBA, Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University

Sonali Perera, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA

Deborah Philip, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA.

Jennifer Robertson, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of Michigan

Anne M. Blackburn, Professor, Cornell University, USA

Rajesh Venugopal, Associate Professor, LSE, UK

Bart Klem, Associate Professor, Gothenburg University, Sweden

Dennis McGilvray, Professor of Anthropology emeritus, University of Colorado, USA

Dr. John Paolillo, Associate Professor, Indiana University, USA.

Jonathan Goodhand, Professor, SOAS – University of London, U.K.

Vivian Choi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, St. Olaf College, USA

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, USA

Daniel Bass, South Asia Program Manager & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Asian Studies, Cornell University, USA

H L Seneviratne, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Virginia, USA

Dr Rachel Seoighe, Senior lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent, UK

Dr. Tayyab Mahmud. Professor of Law, Seattle University, USA

Prof. E. Valentine Daniel, Retired Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA

Kamala Visweswaran, USA

Thushara Hewage, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Ottawa, Canada

Indrani Chatterjee, USA.

Patrick Olivelle, USA

Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research, USA

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, USA

Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, Gallatin School, New York University, USA

Jeevan R Sharma, Senior Lecturer in South Asia and International Development,, University of Edinburgh

Samanthi Gunawardana, Senior Lecturer in Gender and Development, Monash University Australia.

Robert Perinbanayagam, Professor of Sociology (Emeritus), Hunter College, New York, USA

Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA

Jeanne Marecek, Professor of Psychology (Emerita), Swarthmore College, USA

Dr Charishma Ratnam, Research Fellow in Human Geography, Monash University Australia

Professor Cynthia Caron, Professor of International Development, Clark University, USA

Swati Birla, Doctoral candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Sisira Jayasuriya, Professor of Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Literary and Cultural Studies, Monash University Australia

Kanishka Jayasuriya , Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University , Australia

Lylah D’Souza, Artist, Melbourne, Australia

Bina Fernandez, Associate Professor Development Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia

Antony Anghie, Professor, University of Utah, USA

Ali Saha, Teaching Associate and Researcher, Monash University, Australia

Roanna Gonsalves, Creative Writing, University of New South Wales, Australia

Eleanor Gordon, Monash University, Australia

Dr Nirukshi Perera, Curtin University and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia

Dr Niro Kandasamy, University of Sydney and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia

Dr Alice Whitmore, Warrnambool, Australia

Bambi Chapin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, U.S.A.

Dr. Tanuja Thurairajah, Switzerland

Suvendrini Perera, John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Curtin University, Australia

Sreejata Paul, Assistant Professor of English, Shiv Nadar University, India

Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University, USA

Dr. Prashanth Kuganathan, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate/Lecturer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA

Dr. Eva Ambos, Germany

Dr. Francesca Bremner, Adjunct Professor, City University of New York/Montclair State University, NJ. USA.

Michelle de Kretser, Writer, Sydney, Australia.

Nari Senanayake, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky, USA

Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India

Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University, NJ, USA.

Meredith Jones, Professor of Gender and Culture, Brunel University London.

Annee Lawrence, Writer, Sydney, Australia

Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer, SOAS – University of London, U.K.

Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Senior Scientist, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, Germany

Dr Gayatri Jai Singh Rathore, ATER, University of Lille, France

Dr. Papia Sengupta, Assistant Professor. Jawaharlal Nehru University. Delhi. India

Dr Heloise Weber, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Development, The University of Queensland

Sayan Dey, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Witwatersrand

Dr Nipesh Palat Narayanan, University of Grenoble, France.

Tobias Kelly, Professor of Political and Legal Anthropology, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Mohammad Shahabuddin, Professor of International Law & Human Rights, University of Birmingham, UK

Dr. Nilanjana Premaratna, Lecturer in International Politics, Newcastle University, UK

Dr. Thiruni Kelegama, Lecturer in South Asian Studies, University of Oxford, UK

Sharika Thiranagama, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, USA

Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History, University of Cambridge, UK.

Dr Martin Weber, Senior Lecturer, International Relations, The University of Queensland, Australia.

Dr Kiran Grewal, Goldsmiths College, London, UK.

Dr. John Kurien, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India

Gananath Obeyesekere, Emeritus Professor, Princeton University, USA.

Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Retired Professor, Princeton University, USA.

Themal Ellawala, Doctoral candidate, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.

Hans Oberdiek, Research Professor, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore PA USA

Rupal Oza, Professor, Hunter College, CUNY

Goldie Osuri, Professor, University of Warwick, UK.

Aradhana Sharma, Associate Professor, Wesleyan University, USA

Lisa Mitchell, Professor, Dept. of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

Nitya Rao, Professor, University of East Anglia, UK

Farida Khan, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, USA

Madhumita Dutta, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Dr. Missaka Hettiarachchi, Melbourne, Australia

Smita Ramnarain, Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI, USA.

Luc Bulten, Lecturer, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Madu Galappaththi, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo, Canada

Ragnhild Lund, Professor Emerita, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Professor of Art, University of Rhode Island, USA

Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures, Harvard University, USA.

Dr Alexander McKinley, Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago & Lake Forest College, USA

Dr. Eranga Galappaththi, Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and state University (Virginia Tech), USA

Sunil Bastian, Independent Researcher/Writer, UK

M. Shobhana Xavier, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, New York University, USA

Subah Dayal, Assistant Professor, NYU Gallatin, USA

Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Management, The New School, New York City, USA

Garrett Field, Associate Professor, Ohio University, USA

Dr. Sunil Siriwardena, Consultant, UK

Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA

Dr. Justin Henry, Georgia College & State University, USA

Paul Halliday, Julian Bishko Prof. of History and Prof. of Law, University of Virginia, USA

Chandan Reddy, Associate Professor, University of Washington, USA

M. Neelika JayawardaneAssociate Professor, State University of New York-Oswego, USA

Satya P. Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University, USA

Dr. Annelies Goger, Maryland, USA

Rohini Sen, London, United Kingdom

Prabha Kotiswaran, Professor of Law and Social Justice, King’s College London

daniel dillon, PhD, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Tsigkas Alexios, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Dr. Dalmia Katyayani, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University, USA

Dr. Rohan Mukherjee, Singapore

S. Charusheela, Professor, University of Washington Bothell

Chaumtoli Huq, Associate Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Smriti Rao, Assumption University, USA

Professor G Patel University of Virginia, USA

Dr. Derek Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada

Sara Shroff, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan

Maria Ritzema, Associate Professor, USA

Dina M. Siddiqi, New York University, USA.

Dr. Devaka Gunawardena, USA

Dr Jayanthi Lingham, Research Associate, University of Sheffield, UK

R.L.Stirrat.University of Sussex, UK

Susan Reed, Associate Professor, Bucknell University, USA


Subhash Jaireth, Canberra, AUSTRALIA

Dia da Costa, Professor, University of Alberta, Canada

Dr. Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College Columbia University, USA

Dr. Osama Siddique, Law & Policy Research Network (LPRN), Pakistan


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