Riots in Sri Lanka: “Our country continues to fall into the abyss”

Status: 05/12/2022 7:25 p.m.

Sri Lankan demonstrators demand the resignation of President Rajapaksa, who sticks to his post. Now there are allegations that her brother and other politicians orchestrated the violence during the protests.

By Silke Diettrich, ARD Studio New Delhi

Soldiers in armored vehicles drive through the empty streets of Colombo. The curfew in the country has been extended for another day. Nevertheless, people like Kavindya continue to stand in the protest camps. She gave an interview to the AP news agency and said: “One of the most important demands is that the president steps down. And until that happens, we have not won our fight. here, so we are still here and demand his resignation.”

Silk Diettrich

The Sri Lankan people have been demonstrating for weeks because they are in bad shape: their country is on the verge of bankruptcy and cannot and does not want to pay its debts. There is virtually no fuel, little electricity, rarely medicine – and many people can’t even afford groceries anymore because they have become extremely expensive.

87% unhappy with the president

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned and five-time former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as his successor. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, Gotabaya, the current president, is still in power. Most people in the country see that he cannot solve the misery either.

Human rights lawyer Bhavani Fonseka works for the Center for Policy Alternatives, the independent organization that recently launched a survey in the country: “87% of people want our president out of office,” reports -she. “That’s a high number, even many of his supporters don’t want him anymore. And yet he clings to his post. It means our country and our people are sinking further into the abyss.”

Even many of his supporters no longer wanted President Rajapaksa, according to an independent poll.

Image: AP

However, President Rajapaksa has the support of the military. More than ten years ago, he and his brother ended the country’s civil war in a very bloody way. General Gunaratne, a senior officer in the Sri Lankan army, confirmed in an interview with an Indian television channel:

It is written in our constitution: Every president and also former presidents are protected by us until their death.

Order to shoot still in effect

This is now the big concern of people protesting against the president, who has ruled with a heavy hand as defense secretary in the past: that the military might turn against them to protect the president. The president has already ordered the security forces to fire.

However, according to many people, there were no deaths or injuries during the protests until government supporters attacked the protesters with batons. “The violence,” says human rights lawyer Fonseka, “emanated from the Prime Minister’s residence. There are video recordings showing that the Prime Minister, his son and other ministers were there too. we need an independent investigation to find out if the former cabinet responsible for organizing this violence.”

Sri Lanka’s economy will collapse forever if a new government is not appointed soon, the country’s central bank chief has said. President Rajapaksa said in a speech yesterday that he would appoint a new prime minister and cabinet within the next few weeks. He did not mention whether he also intended to quit.

Armored vehicles and the order to fire – Sri Lanka in a state of emergency

Silke Diettrich, ARD New Delhi, May 12, 2022 06:40

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