Trade unions in Sri Lanka, including the IUF-affiliated CMU, held a mass protest rally demanding the immediate and unconditional release of trade union leaders and activist members who were arrested by police on July 8, 2021.
Although the court released them, they were taken by police 330 km from Colombo and placed in a COVID-19 quarantine camp. This is yet another example of the government abusing COVID-19 protocols and restrictions to curtail trade union activities and persecute trade unionists.
The trade union leaders and members were arrested on July 7 at a protest against the unfair termination of workers from State Engineering Corporation. Police brutally disbursed the protesters and arrested them. On July 8 police also arrested trade unionists protesting against proposed legislation to establish another military academy that threatens to undermine the education system.
On their release trade unionists were not tested for COVID-19, but were instead placed in a quarantine center with COVID-19 patients, exposing them to the risk of infection.
The trade unions jointly protested, demanding the release the leaders and members from the quarantine centre.