(UniversityWorldNews) Sri Lankan university students are intensifying their fight against the arrest and detention of students and activists during and after weeks of protests over the country’s economic crisis which led to the unseating of the country’s former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Students launched a new wave of protests calling for the release of three student activists detained by police in Colombo on 18 August under the country’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which allows up to a year’s detention without trial.

The arrests included Wasantha Mudalige, the leader of the Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF), the country’s largest and most powerful student union, which played a key role in the protests, organising a campaign of peaceful struggle.

Police have confirmed that Mudalige, as well as Convener of the Inter-University Bhikku (Buddhist monks) Federation (IUBF) Galwewa Siridhamma Thero, and a member of the Kelaniya University Students’ Union Hashantha Jawantha Gunathilake were detained.

To date, police have arrested about 130 protesters, including activists directly involved in the peaceful movement, which started on 9 April in front of the president’s office in Colombo near the Galle Face area where protesters erected tents. The protest came to be known as the GotaGoGama Aragalaya after the slogan “Gota Go Gama” (Gota, go home).

Police say the three student leaders were detained to investigate whether they acted in a manner that caused the general public to be incited and-or they endeavoured to commit acts of violence during the struggle.

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