03/05/2015, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Police charge peaceful protesters, including nuns, who oppose a port city project

by Melani Manel Perera
Christian and Buddhist leaders and clerics, as well environmentalists protest a Chinese project to build a port city in Colombo, which they deem illegal. A day after the crackdown, the government put the project on hold.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Police and Special Forces on Tuesday charged peaceful protesters in Colombo, including some nuns.

The People's Movement against the Port City organised the event. Demonstrators met in front of the Fort Railway Station with signs in Sinhala, Tamil and English, and handed out leaflets outlining the issues related to the construction of the port.

Yesterday, the government put the project on hold, pending an investigation into its legality.

Christian and Buddhist leaders and clerics, as well as human rights and environmental activists and fishermen joined the protest against the Chinese-funded project, which they deem "illegal".

After marching towards the Presidential secretariat to deliver a petition to the president, they were stopped and surrounded by police.

Special Task Force (STF) officers were also deployed to stop protesters. When they charged, they pushed people around, including some nuns. A few fell on the ground.

Pro-Beijing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had kicked off the US$ 1.5 billion project, signed by the China Communications Construction Co. Ltd.

Following last January's election, newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe appointed a special committee to look into the project.

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