Despite a nationwide curfew, thousands of protestors have marched through Sri Lanka’s streets to protest the government’s handling the worst economic crisis in the country.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds upon students trying to break through barricades while armed troops confronted demonstrators.
As anger continues to grow over the shortage of fuel, essential foods and long power outages, large numbers of people, including children, have gathered by the roadsides.
This follows President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declaring a state of emergency in the country. He also enforced a nationwide curfew, and banned social media platforms.
Nearly 15 hours passed before Internet users could access Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Despite mounting criticism, however, the social media ban was eventually lifted.
These sites were used to organize protests calling on Mr Rajapaksa’s resignation, and many blame him for the country’s worsening economic woes.
President uses emergency powers to cause opposition to protest
Protesters accused him of abusing his power following the assumption of emergency controls. These allow him to maintain public order, suppress rebellion, riot, civil disobedience or preserve essential supplies.
The president can also authorize detentions, property seizure and search of premises.
Continue reading: Sri Lanka is facing an economic crisis.
Opposition politicians marched toward Colombo’s main square, in an apparent attempt to challenge the order.
Protesters shouted slogans and carried placards reading “stop suppression” or “Gota get home”. They were met by police officers and armed soldiers who set up barricades.
European Union has asked Sri Lanka to protect the democratic rights of all concerns, including freedom to assembly and dissent. This must be peaceful.
Julie Chung, US Ambassador, stated that she was closely monitoring the situation and hopes that the “coming days” bring “restraint” and “much-needed economic stability”.
What’s the current situation in Sri Lanka
The country is facing huge debt obligations and shrinking foreign reserves.
It has had to struggle to pay imports and now faces a shortage of basic supplies.
Because there isn’t enough fuel, people have to wait for gas and electricity for hours.
Dry weather has also reduced the country’s hydropower potential.
The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the economy of Sir Lanka, with the government estimating that it suffered a loss in excess of $14 billion (PS10.7billion) over the past two years.
Its economic woes can be attributed to the failure of successive governments diversify exports. Instead of relying on traditional cash sources such as tea, clothing and tourism, they rely on a culture that consumes imported goods.