07/06/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA

Christians defend Buddhist professor after he receives death threats

by Melani Manel Perera
Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, president of the Federation of University Teachers' Association (FUTA), criticised the government's education policy. Persons unknown threatened him. The Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of thought to all citizens.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Lay and religious Christian activists have called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to protect the life of Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri (pictured), a Buddhist and a senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Colombo as well as president of the Federation of University Teachers' Association (FUTA). In the past few days, he has received threatening phone calls and death threats from persons unknown for criticising government funding of education.

The Christian Solidarity Movement (CSM) wants an official inquiry in recognition that "the free expression of thoughts and freedom of involvement in trade union activities are fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution in Sri Lanka and human rights charter of the United Nations."

Prof Devasiri is politically involved. He has criticised the government, demanding that 6 per cent of GDP be invested in education. He has also called for better wages for university lecturer and their participation in committees making decision in the education field.

Since he and his colleagues organised a strike, he and his family have received threats from strangers.

"In view of recent cases of abductions and disappearances, the threats against Prof Devasiri worry us," the CSM said.

"The government cannot allow such things. It must promote freedom of thought and freedom of expression, which are fundamental principles in every democracy. Failure to do so means that the government is against democracy."

 

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