“We condemn the violent assault on peaceful protestors”

Academics Abroad

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.


  1. Dr. Farah Mihlar, Lecturer, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  2. Vasuki Nesiah, Professor of Human Rights and International Law, The Gallatin School, New York University, USA
  3. Kanchana N Ruwanpura, Professor of Human Geography, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  4. Professor David Ludden, Department of History, New York University
  5. Arjun Guneratne, Professor Anthropology, Macalester College, U.S.A.
  6. Dr. Ashwini Vasanthakumar, Associate Professor, Queen’s Law School, Canada
  7. Dr. Cheran Rudhramoorthy, Associate Professor, University of Windsor, Canada
  8. Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada
  9. Prof. Dr. Maarten Bavinck, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  10. Dr. Neena Mahadev, USA
  11. Sharryn Aiken, Associate Professor, Queen’s University Faculty of Law, Canada
  12. Mark Balmforth, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto, Canada
  13. Suresh Canagarajah, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Applied Linguistics and English, Pennsylvania State University, USA
  14. Professor John Harriss, Professor Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  15. Yalini Dream, Visiting Artist, University of San Francisco IME and Human Rights Education, USA
  16. Dr. Nalika Gajaweera, Los Angeles, USA
  17. Patricia Jeffery, Emerita Professor, University of Edinburgh
  18. Neil DeVotta, Professor, Wake Forest University
  19. Dr. Narayani Sritharan, Global Research Institute at William & Mary, USA
  20. Pradeep Sangapala, PhD Candidate, University of Alberta, Canada
  21. V.V. Ganeshananthan, Associate Professor of English, University of Minnesota, USA
  22. Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham, Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Colgate University, USA
  23. Roger Jeffery, Professor of Sociology of South Asia, University of Edinburgh, UK
  24. Mythri Jegathesan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Santa Clara University, USA
  25. Veena Das,FBA, Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University
  26. Sonali Perera, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
  27. Deborah Philip, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA.
  28. Jennifer Robertson, Professor Emerita, Anthropology, University of Michigan
  29. Anne M. Blackburn, Professor, Cornell University, USA
  30. Rajesh Venugopal, Associate Professor, LSE, UK
  31. Bart Klem, Associate Professor, Gothenburg University, Sweden
  32. Dennis McGilvray, Professor of Anthropology emeritus, University of Colorado, USA
  33. Dr. John Paolillo, Associate Professor, Indiana University, USA
  34. Jonathan Goodhand, Professor, SOAS – University of London, U.K.
  35. Vivian Choi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, St. Olaf College, USA
  36. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, USA
  37. Daniel Bass, South Asia Program Manager & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology & Asian Studies, Cornell University, USA
  38. H L Seneviratne, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Virginia, USA
  39. Dr Rachel Seoighe, Senior lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent, UK
  40. Dr. Tayyab Mahmud. Professor of Law, Seattle University, USA
  41. Prof. E. Valentine Daniel, Retired Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, USA
  42. Kamala Visweswaran, USA
  43. Thushara Hewage, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Ottawa, Canada
  44. Indrani Chatterjee, USA
  45. Patrick Olivelle, USA
  46. Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research, USA
  47. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Columbia University, USA
  48. Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, Gallatin School, New York University, USA
  49. Jeevan R Sharma, Senior Lecturer in South Asia and International Development, University of Edinburgh
  50. Samanthi Gunawardana, Senior Lecturer in Gender and Development, Monash University Australia
  51. Robert Perinbanayagam, Professor of Sociology (Emeritus), Hunter College, New York, USA
  52. Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA
  53. Jeanne Marecek, Professor of Psychology (Emerita), Swarthmore College, USA
  54. Dr Charishma Ratnam, Research Fellow in Human Geography, Monash University Australia
  55. Professor Cynthia Caron, Professor of International Development, Clark University, USA
  56. Swati Birla, Doctoral candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  57. Sisira Jayasuriya, Professor of Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  58. Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Literary and Cultural Studies, Monash University Australia
  59. Kanishka Jayasuriya , Professor of Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University , Australia
  60. Lylah D’Souza, Artist, Melbourne, Australia
  61. Bina Fernandez, Associate Professor Development Studies, University of Melbourne, Australia
  62. Antony Anghie, Professor, University of Utah, USA
  63. Ali Saha, Teaching Associate and Researcher, Monash University, Australia
  64. Roanna Gonsalves, Creative Writing, University of New South Wales, Australia
  65. Eleanor Gordon, Monash University, Australia
  66. Dr Nirukshi Perera, Curtin University and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia
  67. Dr Niro Kandasamy, University of Sydney and Tamil Studies Research Network, Australia
  68. Dr Alice Whitmore, Warrnambool, Australia
  69. Bambi Chapin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, U.S.A.
  70. Dr. Tanuja Thurairajah, Switzerland
  71. Suvendrini Perera, John Curtin Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Curtin University, Australia
  72. Sreejata Paul, Assistant Professor of English, Shiv Nadar University, India
  73. Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor of Anthropology, New York University, USA
  74. Dr. Prashanth Kuganathan, Postdoctoral Teaching Associate/Lecturer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
  75. Dr. Eva Ambos, Germany
  76. Dr. Francesca Bremner, Adjunct Professor, City University of New York/Montclair State University, NJ. USA
  77. Michelle de Kretser, Writer, Sydney, Australia
  78. Nari Senanayake, Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky, USA
  79. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
  80. Jinee Lokaneeta, Professor, Drew University, NJ, USA
  81. Meredith Jones, Professor of Gender and Culture, Brunel University London
  82. Annee Lawrence, Writer, Sydney, Australia
  83. Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, Senior Lecturer, SOAS – University of London, U.K.
  84. Jonathan Spencer, Regius Professor, University of Edinburgh
  85. Dr. Rapti Siriwardane-de Zoysa, Senior Scientist, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research, Germany
  86. Dr Gayatri Jai Singh Rathore, ATER, University of Lille, France
  87. Dr. Papia Sengupta, Assistant Professor. Jawaharlal Nehru University. Delhi. India
  88. Dr Heloise Weber, Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Development, The University of Queensland
  89. Sayan Dey, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Witwatersrand
  90. Dr Nipesh Palat Narayanan, University of Grenoble, France
  91. Tobias Kelly, Professor of Political and Legal Anthropology, University of Edinburgh
  92. Dr. Joeri Scholtens, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  93. Mohammad Shahabuddin, Professor of International Law & Human Rights, University of Birmingham, UK
  94. Dr. Nilanjana Premaratna, Lecturer in International Politics, Newcastle University, UK
  95. Dr. Thiruni Kelegama, Lecturer in South Asian Studies, University of Oxford, UK
  96. Sharika Thiranagama, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University, USA
  97. Sujit Sivasundaram, Professor of World History, University of Cambridge, UK
  98. Dr Martin Weber, Senior Lecturer, International Relations, The University of Queensland, Australia
  99. Dr Kiran Grewal, Goldsmiths College, London, UK
  100. Dr. John Kurien, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India
  101. Gananath Obeyesekere, Emeritus Professor, Princeton University, USA
  102. Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Retired Professor, Princeton University, USA
  103. Themal Ellawala, Doctoral candidate, University of Illinois at Chicago, USA
  104. Hans Oberdiek, Research Professor, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore PA USA
  105. Rupal Oza, Professor, Hunter College, CUNY
  106. Goldie Osuri, Professor, University of Warwick, UK
  107. Aradhana Sharma, Associate Professor, Wesleyan University, USA
  108. Lisa Mitchell, Professor, Dept. of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA
  109. Nitya Rao, Professor, University of East Anglia, UK
  110. Farida Khan, Professor of Economics, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, USA
  111. Madhumita Dutta, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  112. Dr. Missaka Hettiarachchi, Melbourne, Australia
  113. Smita Ramnarain, Associate Professor, University of Rhode Island, Kingston RI, USA
  114. Luc Bulten, Lecturer, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  115. Madu Galappaththi, PhD Candidate, University of Waterloo, Canada
  116. Ragnhild Lund, Professor Emerita, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  117. Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Professor of Art, University of Rhode Island, USA
  118. Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures, Harvard University, USA
  119. Dr Alexander McKinley, Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago & Lake Forest College, USA
  120. Dr. Eranga Galappaththi, Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and state University (Virginia Tech), USA
  121. Sunil Bastian, Independent Researcher/Writer, UK
  122. M. Shobhana Xavier, Assistant Professor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
  123. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, New York University, USA
  124. Subah Dayal, Assistant Professor, NYU Gallatin, USA
  125. Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Management, The New School, New York City, USA
  126. Garrett Field, Associate Professor, Ohio University, USA
  127. Dr. Sunil Siriwardena, Consultant, UK
  128. Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor, University of Texas, USA
  129. Dr. Justin Henry, Georgia College & State University, USA
  130. Paul Halliday, Julian Bishko Prof. of History and Prof. of Law, University of Virginia, USA
  131. Chandan Reddy, Associate Professor, University of Washington, USA
  132. M. Neelika Jayawardane Associate Professor, State University of New York-Oswego, USA
  133. Satya P. Mohanty, Professor, Cornell University, USA
  134. Dr. Annelies Goger, Maryland, USA
  135. Rohini Sen, London, United Kingdom
  136. Prabha Kotiswaran, Professor of Law and Social Justice, King’s College London
  137. daniel dillon, PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  138. Dr. Tsigkas Alexios, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  139. Dr. Dalmia Katyayani, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  140. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University, USA
  141. Dr. Rohan Mukherjee, Singapore
  142. S. Charusheela, Professor, University of Washington Bothell
  143. Chaumtoli Huq, Associate Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law
  144. Smriti Rao, Assumption University, USA
  145. Professor G Patel University of Virginia, USA
  146. Dr. Derek Johnson, Professor of Anthropology, University of Manitoba, Canada
  147. Sara Shroff, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan
  148. Maria Ritzema, Associate Professor, USA
  149. Dina M. Siddiqi, New York University, USA
  150. Dr. Devaka Gunawardena, USA
  151. Dr Jayanthi Lingham, Research Associate, University of Sheffield, UK
  152. R.L.Stirrat.University of Sussex, UK
  153. Susan Reed, Associate Professor, Bucknell University, USA
  154. Amjad Saleem, SWITZERLAND
  155. Subhash Jaireth, Canberra, AUSTRALIA
  156. Dia da Costa, Professor, University of Alberta, Canada
  157. Dr. Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Barnard College Columbia University, USA
  158. Dr. Osama Siddique, Law & Policy Research Network (LPRN), Pakistan

26 July 2022

Image: Army arriving to remove protestors from GotaGoGama. Image Credit: NPR

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