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'Protesting peacefully is a fundamental human right' - Siobhain McDonagh

The arrest of Tamil civil society leader Velan Swamigal for participating in peaceful protests during Thai Pongal has sparked international condemnation with British MP, Siobhain McDonagh, stressing the importance of peaceful protest.

The civil society leader was arrested alongside several other demonstrators on Sunday for reportedly "obstructing police duties" as they continued their protest against Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, as he visited Jaffna. During the peaceful protests, Sri Lankan police attempted to break up the demonstrations through the use of water cannons and the erecting of barriers. Swamigal has since been released on bail.

On Twitter McDonagh stated:

She further added:

Read more on the Human Rights Watch report here: 'Change of Presidents of Sri Lanka in 2022 did not lead to any improvement in the country's human rights records' - HRW

The statement comes as British MPs have repeatedly raised alarm over Sri Lanka's abhorrent human rights record. Labour leader, Keir Starmer, raised specific concerns over "the ongoing persecution of Tamils" during his Thai Pongal message and renewed his party's commitment to justice and accountability for Tamils. He was joined by a range of politicians from across the political aisle. 

Read more here: British MPs celebrate Thai Pongal and renew calls for accountability


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