The powers-that-be treat protests differently, depending on who is protesting about what. Usually the subject of the protest determines the treatment. For instance, protesting against the evil colonialists, the UN and the West usually accords the protesters the red carpet treatment including a visit from the Head of State.
On the other hand, protests about the cost of living, wages or similar things generally accords the protesters tear gas and a baton charge.
In the latest development, protests that are ostensibly about the same thing have attracted different treatment.
The morbidly named Dead and Missing Persons front has held a protest requesting the UN carry out an investigation of the LTTE's role in disappearances and killings. They held their protest and handed over their petition.
On the same day, another group of protesters were prevented from coming to Colombo. They were on their way to "hand over a petition about their loved ones who had disappeared". To whom they were protesting is not certain but it appears even the dead and the disappeared are not accorded equal treatment.
police apparently took this decision "for the purpose of maintaining law
and order in the area". Instead of handing over their petition, they spent their time in Vavuniya Urban Council Grounds, guarded by riot police armed with water canons.
The Government has now said that there were no formal complaints for over 60% of disappearances.