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Activists protest factory worker killing

Priests join nationwide demos against police use of 'extreme force'

Activists protest factory worker killing
Protesters at the factory gate reporter, Katunayake
Sri Lanka

June 3, 2011

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Priests and rights activists joined thousands of factory workers yesterday in nationwide demonstrations to protest the killing of a 21-year-old Catholic co-worker during violent clashes with police earlier this week. Roshen Chanaka, a garment worker, was killed on Monday after police opened fire during a protest in the country’s biggest Free Trade Zone (FTZ) against a proposed pension scheme. The government has since backtracked on the scheme which would have docked an extra two percent from private sector workers’ salaries. On Wednesday, Mahinda Balasuriya became the first national police chief to resign as a result of the incident. However, tempers are still running high. Priests and rights activists at an FTZ protest yesterday carried white flags and wreaths as they and the factory workers marched to demand justice for Chanaka. Soldiers were deployed to monitor the protest while the police stayed out of sight. “We want the government to take the responsibility for this heinous crime. After the war in the north, the government has started a war in the south and this killing is an example of this,” said Father Sarath Iddamalgoda, a member of the Christian Solidarity Movement. “This young man [Chanaka] gave his life for thousands of workers in this country and his death gives us a message,” said Saman Rathnapriya, general secretary of the country’s Trade Union Confederation. Related reports Priest condemns attack on workers
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