Right to free speech and assembly
In Sri Lanka, President Gotabhaya Rajapakse imposed a state of emergency on 6 May 2022 in response to a second one-day general strike on 5 May calling for him to resign. The military were deployed in the free trade zones (FTZ) against hundreds of thousands of FTZ workers who took part in the 28 April and 5 May general strikes along with millions of other workers around the country.
The Board of Investment (BOI) – the state authority under which FTZs operate – claimed that it had been “communicating with the Sri Lanka Police and the Army to ensure the safety of all the workers in order to facilitate transporting them to all respective factories without a hitch”. A spokesperson for the BOI added that the action was taken because “groups of protestors entered the facilities and called out the workers to participate in the industrial actions”. FTZ workers willingly joined the strike to take action against their intolerable living conditions.
In the Katunayake Free Trade Zone, at least one Electricity Board worker was arrested in the days following the general strike. It was reported that three more were arrested but later released following legal intervention.