Sri Lanka, internationally known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, is currently in crisis. The poor management of those in power had plunged the entire nation into dark times, quite literally. Island-wide power cuts, often mile-long queues for basic commodities like fuel, gas, and even milk powder, not to mention the soaring prices of other everyday food items, have made life extremely difficult for the common Sri Lankan. However, amid all this chaos, something new and beautiful has emerged; all around our paradise isle, people are standing against the wrong that has been done, with a sense of unity and camaraderie that is breathtaking to behold. Irrespective of race, religion, or socioeconomic status, the citizens of Sri Lanka have joined hands to speak up for their rights while maintaining astonishing levels of peace and orderliness.
The 2022 Sri Lankan protests are a series of ongoing protests in Sri Lanka against the government of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The government has been criticized for its mismanagement of the economy, the subsequent economic crisis, severe inflation, daily blackouts, and a shortage of fuel and other essential items. The key demand of the protesters is the resignation of the government-run Rajapaksha family. Despite the involvement of several opposition parties, most protesters consider themselves to be apolitical, and some have even expressed discontent with the current parliamentary opposition. During the protests, protesters chanted slogans such as “Go Home Gota” and “Go Home Rajapaksas”.The protests have been mainly staged by the general public, with the youth playing a significant part by carrying out protests at Galle Face Green.
The very first protest started on the 15th of March, at Mirihana. Protests are caused by some of the following issues,
- Economic mismanagement by the government resulted in the 2019–present Sri Lankan economic crisis
- Shortages of fuel and essential items and power cuts
- High inflation and the rapid rise in the cost of living
- Corruption and nepotism of the Rajapaksa family
Also, the methods of the protests are,
- Internet activism
- Strike action
Moreover, the status after starting the protest is, (ongoing)
- Declaration of state of emergency
- Imposition of a nationwide curfew
- Restriction of social media access
- The mass resignation of the Second cabinet appointed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa
- Resignation of Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal and appointment of Nandalal Weerasinghe
- 41 MPs of the Government become Independent in the Parliament.
- Series of coordinated attacks on protesters by pro-Rajapaksa mobs resulting in retaliatory attacks by protesters on the property of Rajapaksa loyalists and other Parliament members
- Resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa
- Declaration of island-wide curfew from 9 May until 11 May extended until 12 May as well as the deployment of the military.
- Appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister
- Resignation of National list MP Basil Rajapaksa
- Sack of President’s House and Temple Trees by protesters
- Announcements of the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Protesters and opposition organizations :
- Many unorganised apolitical and nonpartisan protesters
- University students
- Various professions including private bus drivers, fishers, hospital workers, etc
- Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and Hindu clergies
- Military veterans including disabled war veterans
- Sri Lankan diaspora mainly in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States
- Political parties
- Samagi Jana Balawegaya
- Tamil National Alliance
- National People’s Power
- Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna
- Frontline Socialist Party
- Government of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka Police
- Sri Lanka Army
- Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna
- Pro-Rajapaksa partisans
- United National Party
- Eelam People’s Democratic Party
- Avant-Garde PMC
Amidst a simmering political crisis in the Island country, frustrated Sri Lankans, tired of the prolonged power cuts and food shortages had gathered near the private residence of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Mirihana. The protesters chanted slogans like “go home” against Rajapaksa and demanded solutions to the many crises the country has fallen into.
The protesters clashed with the police outside Rajapaksa’s residence. A bus attached to the Sri Lanka Army and a jeep were set in flames by the protesters. As the situation got out of control, the police imposed a curfew in several areas in Colombo.
Independence Square Protest
The proper mass rebellion against the government started at independence Square where the first mass Protest happened on the 5th of April. A reasonable crowd in Independence Square as the Occupancy Of Independence Square Continued.
The 9th of April was the first day of the Galle face protest. The peoples’ protests that were seen all around the country had culminated at a single, main location, a space adjacent to the President’s Secretariat at Galle Face, located in one of Colombo’s busiest business hubs. True to our reputation as a creative nation with a healthy sense of humour, we Sri Lankans had named this space “Gotagogama”.
Thousands of people flock to this point every day and every night to join this liberating movement, often pitching up tents and camping out overnight.
A factor that makes this movement so successful is that all demonstrations are peaceful. The people are frustrated and angry, but also organized and responsible. People hold up boards stating crafty slogans and raise their voices in creative chants around the clock, but never does the massive crowd become unruly or disruptive to public security. It is truly amazing to see how the citizens at Gotagogama work together towards a common goal.
People holding umbrellas over Muslims breaking fast, to enable them to eat undeterred by the rain, holding masses on Easter Sunday and demanding justice for the victims of the 2019 attacks, joining hands to celebrate the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, providing alms for Buddhist monks on poya day and hearing the National Anthem sung in Tamil for the first time since it was removed from the 2020 agenda for Independence day; these are all scenes witnessed at this multi-cultural, multi-racial village.
This unity, this beautiful sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, this knowledge that we are all, first and foremost human, and most importantly Sri Lankan, is the single main fact that makes this people’s protest so incredibly powerful. Regardless of the various attempts still being made to break this chain of unity, we, the people of Sri Lanka will prevail and move forward together.
After 30 days of peaceful protests, the Rajapaksa regime unleashed its thugs on the protesters outside Temple Trees. After demolishing the tents and assaulting the people gathered there, the thugs proceeded to Galle Face where they destroyed the tents at GotaGoGama including the medical tent and the library, as police watched. Finally, the police began to disperse the attackers with a water cannon and tear gas. Riot police have been called in to control the situation as lawyers and office workers came out to protect the protesters. A country-wide curfew had been imposed.7 people died and 231 people were injured in that day’s clashes. But protesters never gave up, they were strongly fighting for justice peacefully, And they rebuilt Gotagogama. Trending memes right now suggest GGG 2.0 is going to be stronger, more networked, more diverse, and bigger. Today’s violence indicates that the Rajapaksas just don’t get it. You can’t shoot, kill, tear gas away this protest,” according to Dr Sanjana Hattotuwa.
There were some pushbacks with the thugs shoved into the Beira Lake near Temple Trees and buses being attacked as they left.
All government and private sector trade unions, including port, railway, and postal workers jointly decided to call a general strike from now on to protest the brutal attack on peaceful protesters carried out by the supporters of the Rajapaksa regime.
The latest news reports said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had resigned, this shows the power of the people. It was the first victory of this struggle.
Here are some pictures of the protests captured by our team,
Days remained with a peaceful revolt against Rajapaksas, but the result that protesters expected, was yet to come. With no fuel, high prices for necessary needs, the educational sector, and the health sector deteriorating, the citizens knew that it was up to them to do something about it. They had then decided to assemble near the president’s palace and join the major rebellion, started by Former MP Hirunika.
They had many barriers to overcome to reach the place, which meant there were very limited options to come to Colombo for people from remote areas. They could only opt for public transport. To make matters worse, the government imposed a restriction on train stations. But this did not deter the fellow Sri Lankans.
Instead, for the first time in Srilanka, a train was under the authority of its passengers. It was estimated that nearly a million people had gathered around the President’s Secretariat on this day, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksha. Throughout the day, soldiers and police officers were unable to hold back a crowd of chanting protesters clamouring for Rajapaksa’s resignation and blaming him for the country’s worst economic crisis in seven decades.
“Police had fired shots into the air but were unable to stop the crowd from surrounding the presidential residence”, said a witness.
Neither Rajapaksa nor Wickremesinghe was in their residence when the buildings were surrounded.
Inside the president’s whitewashed colonial-era residence, a Facebook Livestream showed hundreds of protesters, draped in the national flag, packed into rooms and corridors. A few of them were splashing in the swimming pool celebrating victory. In the evening, it was revealed that a huge fire had broken out in Wickremesinghe’s private home in an affluent Colombo neighbourhood. His office supposedly stated that protesters had initiated the stir-up.
A Spokesperson for the Colombo National Hospital stated that 55 people are currently undergoing in-house treatment at the hospital, while one person is being treated in the ICU.
Eleven people who were injured have been identified as journalists, six of them being from the news corporation, News 1st. The News 1st journalists include Sarasi Peiris, U.D. Hinduja, Janitha Mendis, Chanuka Weerakoon, Kalimuththu Chandran, and Cameraman Waruna Sampath.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said in a video statement that Rajapaksa had informed him that he would step down from his post on Wednesday. “The decision to step down on the 13th of July was taken to ensure a peaceful handover of power,” Abeywardena said. “I, therefore, request the public to respect the law and maintain peace,” he said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that he was willing to resign to make way for an all-party government. ” Under the acting president, the present parliament can appoint a new prime minister and an interim government,” mentioned the letter released by the Speaker’s office.
After more than 90 days of sacrifice and massive losses, July 9th marks a historical day for the struggle to victory by the Sri Lankans.
A nation that was once divided by the political agenda of corrupt rulers is now united against the most unscrupulous family in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa emailed his resignation letter to the parliament speaker on the 14th of July. He fled to the Maldives earlier this week and on Thursday (14) he fled to Singapore on Saudi Airlines. Sources have, however, refuted media reports on his onward travel. His escape to the Maldives was negotiated by former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, sources said. Meanwhile, Sri Lankans awaiting his resignation. Finally, on the 15th of July 2022, Gotabaya Rajapaksha officially resigned from his executive presidency.
Sri Lankans achieved their mission successfully, and people have now realized how crucial it is to choose a wise leader to rule the country.
For further information refer to the tweet threads below,
Recap to my #GoHomeGota— Nuzly ✊🏻🇱🇰 (@nuzlyMN) July 8, 2022
a frustrated youngster calling his friend @BoomslangSur took him to the street. Even though it was a SJB organized one, people’s struggle was clearly seen!
This followed with couple of silent vigils in Liberty & Kohuwala as well before going to Mirihana pic.twitter.com/3b3Hnsy8JV
Luego de ver una cantidad considerable de desinformación respecto a #SriLanka🇱🇰 es que decidí hacer un hilo para clarificar algunas cuestiones sobre esta nación.— Felipe Galli🗳🇦🇷 (@FEscrutinio) July 10, 2022
🧵👇#SriLankaCrisis #SriLankaProtests pic.twitter.com/peCQQVYtfP