Growing chorus of support for anti-government protests from Sri Lankan cricketers

Over 200 people have been injured in violent clashes across the country. AFP via Getty Images

Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the death toll from political violence reached eight amidst a debilitating economic crisis that has afflicted the nation for months.

Thousands of Sri Lankans have taken to the streets to demand the resignations of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa. They resigned as prime minister last week due to a debt crisis that has caused a shortage of petrol, food, and other necessities.

Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy after delaying the payment of $7 billion in foreign loans due this year out of $25 billion due by 2026. The overall foreign debt of Sri Lanka is $51 billion.

The generally peaceful protests turned violent on Monday when pro-government supporters stormed a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in the capital city of Colombo. The mob encircled the demonstrators, assaulting them with steel rods and batons, setting the fire, and destroying property.

According to reports, when the police and military arrived, they permitted Rajapaksa supporters to continue their attacks. As police replied with water cannons and tear gas, the unrest swept the island nation.

Infuriated anti-government protesters attacked ruling party politicians and torched the residences of ministers and other pro-government parliamentarians and Mahinda Rajapaksa's home in his constituency of Kurunegala, the Rajapaksas' ancestral home just outside Colombo, and a boutique hotel owned by his sons.

According to the country's defense ministry, eight people, including a politician and two police officers, were killed, and more than 200 were injured in the atrocity. It was stated that about 100 structures and sixty automobiles were destroyed by fire.

Former Sri Lankan cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara condemned the violence and accused the government of supporting it.

"Peaceful protestors demanding their fundamental necessities and rights are assaulted by disgusting thugs and goons backed by government thugs and goons. Disgusting. This is violence backed by the state. Intentional and deliberate," he tweeted.

Mahela Jayawardene, the former captain and current consulting coach of the Sri Lankan national cricket team, posted a video of a woman being assaulted "in front of police officers" and criticized the ruling administration.

In the following tweet, he added, "Violence will not bring about the change we're all seeking, and it's absolutely remarkable how disciplined everyone has been over the past month. Please do not allow vested interest to supplant the will of the people."

Mr. Jayawardene also utilized the hashtag "GoGotaGo," which has become the rallying cry for the Rajapaksa dynasty to resign together.

In another tweet, he stated, "History has taught us the lessons of civil war and distrust among people due to racial and religious intolerance. In addition, how it has been utilized as a weapon to achieve personal goals. Divided We Fall, United We Stand Strong: Think as a Sri Lankan at all times!"

Monday, national team member Wanindu Hasaranga wrote, "Cowardly and barbaric! Two adjectives that describe today's attack on nonviolent, innocent Sri Lankan demonstrators."

"I am dismayed to even consider that our country has such leadership," he continued.

This week, veteran cricketer Roshan Mahanama joined the protests at Galle Face in Colombo and urged demonstrators to demonstrate "peaceful opposition to the government."

"Remaining at home as the country descended into turmoil was not an option. As soon as possible yesterday afternoon, I walked to Galle Face from my home to stand in solidarity with the other demonstrators and to demonstrate my support for the struggle against the corrupt, power-hungry authorities of the country...," he stated.

Former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya joined the rally in Colombo earlier in April. "It is awful that people are experiencing this circumstance, and they cannot survive in this condition and have begun to complain. "There is a gas shortage and no electricity for hours," he stated.

Sri Lankan authorities placed armored vehicles and troops on the capital's streets on Wednesday, a day after the defense minister instructed the armed forces to open fire on anyone threatening life or damaging public property.

Top defense ministry official Kamal Gunaratne refuted allegations of a military takeover. "None of our officers are interested in seizing control of the government. Mr. Gunaratne stated, "This has never occurred in our country, and it is not easy to do so here."

Following Monday's violence, the prime minister and his family evacuated the government house as thousands of demonstrators attempted to break in. However, the president remained at his official mansion, protected by the military and police.

New Delhi has dismissed allegations that "certain political individuals and their families" have fled to India. It has also denied rumors that India will send troops to Colombo.

India informed Sri Lanka of its support on Tuesday, stating that New Delhi has pledged $3.5 billion to help Sri Lanka overcome the crisis and send food and medical.

Publish : 2022-05-11 19:37:00

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