158 distinguished South Asia scholars in the West have condemned the violent assault on peaceful protestors in Colombo by the Sri Lankan security forces on July 22. In a statement issued on Tuesday, they said that they were aghast at reports that five of the protestors were abducted and tortured by the security forces.
Here is the statement in full:
We, the undersigned academics who work on Sri Lanka and South Asia more broadly, fully condemn the violent assault on peaceful protestors in Colombo by the Sri Lankan security forces on 22 July 2022.
We are aghast at reports that five of the protestors were abducted and tortured by security force personnel; violently beaten, forced to kneel on rocks and perform extremely tedious exercises whilst being threatened with death if they tried to escape. Nine protest leaders were also arbitrarily arrested and detained by the police.
That such a brutal attack against non-violent protestors was ordered by the country’s new President Ranil Wickremasinghe, less than 24 hours after taking office, is shocking and sends distressing signals of his method of governance. Over the last several months the protestors have been inspiring and disciplined in exercising basic democratic rights to call attention to the crisis. This space for resistance has also been used for educational purposes, with a university and library, advancing knowledge to all groups of people. The reference to protestors as “fascist” is totally inaccurate, inappropriate and damaging; it weaponizes the term to provide an excuse for the use of extreme force. Wickremasinghe was elected by parliament to take on the presidency, which was vacated due to the non-violent pro-democracy movement against authoritarianism and failed governance. His decision to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors is deeply alarming and does not offer the prospect of Sri Lanka progressing beyond the current crisis it is in. It is disheartening and telling that one of his first actions in office was to attack the people rather than take steps to address the suffering of the people.
We call on the President and government of Sri Lanka to immediately desist in the use of any force against protestors and reduce the current extreme military presence around the protest site at the Galle Face Green in Colombo and around the country including the north and east. The government must investigate the use of extreme force and torture and hold accountable those found guilty of committing these crimes. We call on the government to respect the right of all Sri Lankans to protest and protect protest spaces. The Sri Lankan constitution guarantees Sri Lankans fundamental rights including freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly; in addition, these are internationally guaranteed rights which Sri Lanka is committed to protect.
Dr. Farah Mihlar, Lecturer, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
Vasuki Nesiah, Professor of Human Rights and International Law, The Gallatin School, New York University, USA
Kanchana N Ruwanpura, Professor of Human Geography, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Professor David Ludden, Department of History, New York University
Arjun Guneratne, Professor Anthropology, Macalester College, U.S.A.
Dr. Ashwini Vasanthakumar, Associate Professor, Queen’s Law School, Canada
Dr. Cheran Rudhramoorthy, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Canada
Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada
Prof. Dr. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dr. Neena Mahadev, USA
Sharryn Aiken, Associate Professor, Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Canada
Mark Balmforth, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada
Suresh Canagarajah, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics and English, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Professor John Harriss, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Yalini Dream, Visiting Artist, University of San Francisco IME and Human Rights Education, USA
Dr. Nalika Gajaweera, Los Angeles, USA
Patricia Jeffery, Emerita Professor, University of Edinburgh
Neil DeVotta, Professor, Wake Forest University
Dr. Narayani Sritharan, Global Research Institute at William & Mary, USA
Pradeep Sangapala, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Canada
V.V. Ganeshananthan, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota, USA
Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham, Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Colgate University, USA
Roger Jeffery, Professor of Sociology of South Asia, University of Edinburgh, UK
Mythri Jegathesan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Santa Clara University, USA
Veena Das,FBA, Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Sonali Perera, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
Deborah Philip, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA.
Jennifer Robertson, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of Michigan
Anne M. Blackburn, Professor, Cornell University, USA
Rajesh Venugopal, Associate Professor, LSE, UK
Bart Klem, Associate Professor, Gothenburg University, Sweden
Dennis McGilvray, Professor of Anthropology emeritus, University of Colorado, USA
Dr. John Paolillo, Associate Professor, Indiana University, USA.
Jonathan Goodhand, Professor, SOAS – University of London, U.K.
Vivian Choi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, St. Olaf College, USA
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, USA
Daniel Bass, South Asia Program Manager & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Asian Studies, Cornell University, USA
H L Seneviratne, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Virginia, USA
Dr Rachel Seoighe, Senior lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent, UK
Dr. Tayyab Mahmud. Professor of Law, Seattle University, USA
Prof. E. Valentine Daniel, Retired Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA
Kamala Visweswaran, USA
Thushara Hewage, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Ottawa, Canada
Indrani Chatterjee, USA.
Patrick Olivelle, USA
Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research, USA
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, USA
Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, Gallatin School, New York University, USA
Jeevan R Sharma, Senior Lecturer in South Asia and International Development,, University of Edinburgh
Samanthi Gunawardana, Senior Lecturer in Gender and Development, Monash University Australia.
Robert Perinbanayagam, Professor of Sociology (Emeritus), Hunter College, New York, USA
Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA
Jeanne Marecek, Professor of Psychology (Emerita), Swarthmore College, USA
Dr Charishma Ratnam, Research Fellow in Human Geography, Monash University Australia
Professor Cynthia Caron, Professor of International Development, Clark University, USA
Swati Birla, Doctoral candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Sisira Jayasuriya, Professor of Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Literary and Cultural Studies, Monash University Australia
Kanishka Jayasuriya , Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University , Australia
Lylah D’Souza, Artist, Melbourne, Australia
Bina Fernandez, Associate Professor Development Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia
Antony Anghie, Professor, University of Utah, USA
Ali Saha, Teaching Associate and Researcher, Monash University, Australia
Roanna Gonsalves, Creative Writing, University of New South Wales, Australia
Eleanor Gordon, Monash University, Australia
Dr Nirukshi Perera, Curtin University and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia
Dr Niro Kandasamy, University of Sydney and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia
Dr Alice Whitmore, Warrnambool, Australia
Bambi Chapin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, U.S.A.
Dr. Tanuja Thurairajah, Switzerland
Suvendrini Perera, John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Curtin University, Australia
Sreejata Paul, Assistant Professor of English, Shiv Nadar University, India
Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University, USA
Dr. Prashanth Kuganathan, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate/Lecturer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
Dr. Eva Ambos, Germany
Dr. Francesca Bremner, Adjunct Professor, City University of New York/Montclair State University, NJ. USA.
Michelle de Kretser, Writer, Sydney, Australia.
Nari Senanayake, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky, USA
Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University, NJ, USA.
Meredith Jones, Professor of Gender and Culture, Brunel University London.
Annee Lawrence, Writer, Sydney, Australia
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer, SOAS – University of London, U.K.
Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Senior Scientist, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, Germany
Dr Gayatri Jai Singh Rathore, ATER, University of Lille, France
Dr. Papia Sengupta, Assistant Professor. Jawaharlal Nehru University. Delhi. India
Dr Heloise Weber, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Development, The University of Queensland
Sayan Dey, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Witwatersrand
Dr Nipesh Palat Narayanan, University of Grenoble, France.
Tobias Kelly, Professor of Political and Legal Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Mohammad Shahabuddin, Professor of International Law & Human Rights, University of Birmingham, UK
Dr. Nilanjana Premaratna, Lecturer in International Politics, Newcastle University, UK
Dr. Thiruni Kelegama, Lecturer in South Asian Studies, University of Oxford, UK
Sharika Thiranagama, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, USA
Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History, University of Cambridge, UK.
Dr Martin Weber, Senior Lecturer, International Relations, The University of Queensland, Australia.
Dr Kiran Grewal, Goldsmiths College, London, UK.
Dr. John Kurien, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India
Gananath Obeyesekere, Emeritus Professor, Princeton University, USA.
Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Retired Professor, Princeton University, USA.
Themal Ellawala, Doctoral candidate, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.
Hans Oberdiek, Research Professor, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore PA USA
Rupal Oza, Professor, Hunter College, CUNY
Goldie Osuri, Professor, University of Warwick, UK.
Aradhana Sharma, Associate Professor, Wesleyan University, USA
Lisa Mitchell, Professor, Dept. of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
Nitya Rao, Professor, University of East Anglia, UK
Farida Khan, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, USA
Madhumita Dutta, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
Dr. Missaka Hettiarachchi, Melbourne, Australia
Smita Ramnarain, Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI, USA.
Luc Bulten, Lecturer, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Madu Galappaththi, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo, Canada
Ragnhild Lund, Professor Emerita, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Professor of Art, University of Rhode Island, USA
Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures, Harvard University, USA.
Dr Alexander McKinley, Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago & Lake Forest College, USA
Dr. Eranga Galappaththi, Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and state University (Virginia Tech), USA
Sunil Bastian, Independent Researcher/Writer, UK
M. Shobhana Xavier, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, New York University, USA
Subah Dayal, Assistant Professor, NYU Gallatin, USA
Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Management, The New School, New York City, USA
Garrett Field, Associate Professor, Ohio University, USA
Dr. Sunil Siriwardena, Consultant, UK
Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA
Dr. Justin Henry, Georgia College & State University, USA
Paul Halliday, Julian Bishko Prof. of History and Prof. of Law, University of Virginia, USA
Chandan Reddy, Associate Professor, University of Washington, USA
M. Neelika JayawardaneAssociate Professor, State University of New York-Oswego, USA
Satya P. Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University, USA
Dr. Annelies Goger, Maryland, USA
Rohini Sen, London, United Kingdom
Prabha Kotiswaran, Professor of Law and Social Justice, King’s College London
daniel dillon, PhD, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Tsigkas Alexios, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Dr. Dalmia Katyayani, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University, USA
Dr. Rohan Mukherjee, Singapore
S. Charusheela, Professor, University of Washington Bothell
Chaumtoli Huq, Associate Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law
Smriti Rao, Assumption University, USA
Professor G Patel University of Virginia, USA
Dr. Derek Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada
Sara Shroff, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
Maria Ritzema, Associate Professor, USA
Dina M. Siddiqi, New York University, USA.
Dr. Devaka Gunawardena, USA
Dr Jayanthi Lingham, Research Associate, University of Sheffield, UK
R.L.Stirrat.University of Sussex, UK
Susan Reed, Associate Professor, Bucknell University, USA
Amjad Saleem, SWITZERLAND
Subhash Jaireth, Canberra, AUSTRALIA
Dia da Costa, Professor, University of Alberta, Canada
Dr. Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College Columbia University, USA
Dr. Osama Siddique, Law & Policy Research Network (LPRN), Pakistan