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“Let her breathe freely!”

by Jayakody PSK

The Face book post published by NPP Parliamentarian Dr Harini Amarasuriya regarding the barren conversations targeting Bhagya Abeyratne,who spoke out against the destruction taking place to the Sinharaja, has drawn the attention of the political sector.
Harini, in her post, states, “The unrest around Bhagya is exposing us one by one to the most despicable attitudes in our society.
First, please stop treating her, who is a 19-year-old young woman, as a baby. She has demonstrated her ability to hold independent opinions and articulate her ideas and her ability to speak up boldly for her own understanding. Second, government officials’ questioning of her shows their inability to deal with confident adolescents. When challenged by talented, courageous young people, they intimidate and threaten. Third, the way both agree and oppose her in the media, glorifying her as a mere commodity and glorifying her as a person who cannot act independently, once again shows the absurdity of the Sri Lankan media

Fourth, the shaking of the entire establishment by a single public protest by a 19-year-old girl shows the cowardice and distrust of our ‘leaders’. Finally, this incident clearly shows us our huge social gaps. Bhagya was not the first (or last) 19-year-old to speak in public. But she comes from a background that exposes her to all of the above.

How many of her peers in more comfortable and safer backgrounds would gather around her? Are they at least aware of this incident, even those who say they care as much about the environment? It is futile to continue claiming that her statement was screened when it appears to be factually correct.
Bhagya by no means need be a victim of harassment and slander. And she is not a helpless person who needs help. Certainly not someone who should be discarded when used and obsolete. Bhagya has shown us that not all hopes for our country are dashed. We can still produce young people like her means that we can still hold out hope. Let her take the lead and awaken the minds of the people. Let her grow. Let her breathe freely.
Meanwhile, many groups have started to rally around Bhagya condemning the harassment and the investigation being carried out by the authorities.
The Socialist Youth Union (SYU) staged a silent protest opposite the Human Rights Commission in Colombo, demanding an investigation for violating the rights of Bhagya Abeyratne.
“We will not remain silent if anyone attempts to lay a hand on those who stand up against environmental destruction,” said Anjana Sampath Amarasinghe from the Socialist Youth Union (SYU), adding the government has no right to take away the people’s right to breathe fresh air.

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