The U.S. Comparative and International Education Society is deeply concerned over the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to arrest student activists – Wasantha Mudalige and Galwewa Siridhamma Himi, of the Inter University Students’ Federation of Sri Lanka, who were arrested while engaging in peaceful protest. Widespread arrests, intimidation and harassment of citizens who participated in protests are ongoing as the country plummeted into a deep economic crisis. As a society of educators we are well aware of the harmful repercussions the labeling of peaceful dissenters as ‘terrorists’ has on individuals and communities, particularly those from vulnerable and minority backgrounds.

We express our unease with the rising trend of the use of anti-terrorism law by governments to suppress dissent globally. In addition, we are deeply concerned about the arrests of students under what appear to be repressive laws. We view the stifling of student movements through the abuse of law as a threat to freedom of expression and intellectual freedoms integral to education. The disregard for students’ rights, including the freedom to protest and show their dissent, is contributing to the disintegration of democracy itself. We collectively affirm the statement by the Federation of University Teachers’ Association in Sri Lanka that there can be no education without democracy.

We stand in solidarity with students and teachers who are committed to resisting authoritarianism, including opposing repressive laws and engaging in democratic actions for social change.

Comparative and International Education Society

Members are welcome to individually sign a related statement by scholars and educators here.