03/02/2012, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Catholic religious and activists gather once a month in a silent vigil for the victims of police violence

by Melani Manel Perera
For the past seven months, civil rights group Right to Life has organised a protest to demand an investigation into the clashes that occurred on 30 May 2012 in Katunayake Free Trade Zone. Roshen Chanaka, 21, was killed at the time and eight more young workers were injured. Two are now paralysed. So far, police has failed to investigate the matter.

Katunayake (AsiaNews) - For seven months, Catholic clergymen, human rights activists and ordinary people have gathered on the first day of the month at Ftz Junction in Katunayake in support of Roshen Chanaka's family. They want justice for the young worker who died in May 2011 as well as other workers who were injured during clashes between with police and workers from the local Free Trade Zone. The peaceful silent protest is organised by Right to Life, a movement that emerged in 2003 to promote human development. "A Christian's duty is to fight for justice," Sister Anne Perera told AsiaNews. "If Jesus were alive today, he would be with the victims."

"Since Rohsen's death, nothing has happened," his sister Anne Rathnasekara told AsiaNews. "We received 3 million rupees (US$ 25,000) from President Mahinda Rakapaksa and the police. They had promised to find us jobs and give us money to complete our home, but nothing has been done."

"The first mistake the government made was to do nothing for the people involved in the clashes," Right to Life coordinator Wasantha Ranil explained. "The second was made when some ministers visited the Rohsen's family and those of the injured workers in order to sway them against filing charges because they feared the government would face difficulties."

On 30 May 2011, thousands of workers from the Free Trade Zone in Katunayake organised a demonstration against a proposed new pension plan. The protest got out of hand and during clashes with police, Roshen Chanaka, 21, died. Eight more workers were injured, some seriously.

In the following days, some of the injured were fired for absenteeism-they were in hospital recuperating. Only few were able to obtain some financial aid. Two, Dhammica and Lasantha, have lost the use of their legs.

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