Lankan Army relieves 4 officers over protest crackdown
Colombo: Sri Lanka Army Friday relieved four top officers from duties with immediate effect over their involvement in a military crackdown on civilians protesting poor water quality that left three dead and about 50 injured.
A Brigadier and three Lt Colonels alleged to be involved in the incident have been relieved of their duties as further investigations are under way by the Court of Inquiry and the Gampaha magistrate, military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said.
The decision comes in the midst of a visit by the UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay to the country. She is to meet President Mahinda Rajapaka later in the day.
On August 1, three civilians died and nearly 50 injured when army opened fire after residents of Weliweriya township, northeast of Colombo, and surrounding villages protested against a factory`s discharge of chemical waste that was polluting drinking water.
The Sri Lankan government has argued that the military was acting in self-defence as the protesters threw gasoline bombs. It has announced a compensation for the victims.
Lankan Army chief Daya Ratnayake has constituted a five-member board to investigate into all allegations against the military.
The opposition has held protests highlighting the government`s excessive use of force on the peaceful demonstrators ever since the crackdown took place.
These demonstrations was followed by Rajapaksa goverment`s decision last week to free the police from the control of the ministry of defence and creating the new Law and Order Ministry for the purpose.
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