Colombo, Sri Lanka – Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) in Sri Lanka were subjected to a violent attack by pro-government thugs at the University of Moratuwa on November 30. Dehin Wasantha and Lakshman Fernando, prominent members of the party, were physically assaulted by the president and secretary of the Moratuwa university branch of Podujana Pragathishili Sevaka Sangamaya (PPSS), which is linked to the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna.
Wasantha, a university non-academic worker for more than two decades, sustained two fractured fingers in the attack, while Fernando suffered serious bruising and a neck injury. The violent incident occurred as the party members were campaigning near the rear gate of the university for upcoming SEP public meetings. They were promoting meetings on the Centenary of Trotskyism to be addressed by Joseph Kishore, National Secretary of the SEP (US).
The case was brought before a judge at the Magistrate Court in Moratuwa on January 8 and was then referred to a mandatory Mediation Board. However, Perera and Piyawardena, the assailants, did not appear at the Mediation Board hearing on January 20, leading to the board reconvening the case on February 3. Subsequently, they opted for a settlement, but Wasantha refused to agree, prompting the board to direct both parties to appear in court on May 20.
The global campaign launched in support of Wasantha and Fernando by the SEP and its sister parties of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) has received endorsement from workers, youth, academics, and their organizations worldwide. Protest letters have been sent to relevant Sri Lankan authorities condemning the attack and demanding maximum legal action against the perpetrators.
Among the protest letters are resolutions from the Health Workers Rank-and-File Committee (Australia), Alton Plantation Workers Action Committee in Sri Lanka, Northern Province Fishermen Action Committee in Sri Lanka, and a health worker in the UK, all denouncing the assault and demanding justice for the victims.
These resolutions reflect the solidarity shown by workers and activists globally for the victims of the attack. The international outreach for justice and condemnation of the violence highlights the widespread support for the protection of democratic rights and freedom of expression. This global response further emphasizes the significance of ensuring that those responsible for the attack face legal consequences while safeguarding the rights of political parties to engage in political activities without fear of violence or repression.