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Sri Lanka

Sri Lankans Seek A World In Which They Can Find Laughter Together

On 9 July 2022, remarkable images floated across social media from Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital. Thousands of people rushed into the presidential palace and chased out former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, forcing him to flee to Singapore. In early May, Gotabaya’s brother Mahinda, also a former president, resigned from his post as prime minister and fled with his family to the Trincomalee naval base. The public’s raw anger toward the Rajapaksa family could no longer be contained, and the tentacles of Rajapaksas, which had ensnared the state for years, were withdrawn. Now, almost a month later, residual feelings from the protests remain but have not made any significant impact. Sri Lanka’s new caretaker, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, extended the state of emergency and ordered security forces to dismantle the Galle Face Green Park protest site (known as Gotagogama). Wickremesinghe’s ascension to the presidency reveals a great deal about both the weakness of the protest movement in this nation of 22 million people and the strength of the Sri Lankan ruling class.

Sri Lanka Democracy Movement At The Crossroads

For several months the nation of Sri Lanka has been imperiled with the looming threat of complete economic collapse as fuel, food and other commodity prices skyrocketed. Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the central focus of the youth-led democracy movement as the GotaGoGama encampment was established demanding the immediate resignation of Rajapaksa as president and the removal of his cabinet. At its height the camp’s activism attracted tens of thousands of people demanding an end to the former administration. Eventually the presidential compound was overrun by angry protesters necessitating the removal of Rajapaksa as president. These events have sparked a debate within the democracy movement on a possible shift in tactics and strategy.For several months the nation of Sri Lanka has been imperiled with the looming threat of complete economic collapse as fuel, food and other commodity prices skyrocketed. Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the central focus of the youth-led democracy movement as the GotaGoGama encampment was established demanding the immediate resignation of Rajapaksa as president and the removal of his cabinet. At its height the camp’s activism attracted tens of thousands of people demanding an end to the former administration. Eventually the presidential compound was overrun by angry protesters necessitating the removal of Rajapaksa as president. These events have sparked a debate within the democracy movement on a possible shift in tactics and strategy.

Protest Movement Rejects Appointment Of Sri Lankan President

Sri Lanka, an island-nation of 22 million people, has been the center of political and economic turmoil since the United National Party government defaulted on $51 billion in foreign debt during May. For months the country has experienced severe shortages of fuel, food and other commodities amid an inflationary spiral. Motorists have lined up for blocks to get fuel and cooking oil. A failed agricultural fertilizer policy has been cited as the cause behind the decline in agricultural production. The shortages of fuel have hampered the production and marketing of agricultural products such as tea which is exported from Sri Lanka. Due to the lack of fuel, trucks which transport these agricultural commodities for internal marketing and export have been drastically reduced. Workers and small business operators have lined up sometimes for two days in order to purchase limited amounts of fuel.

Real Debt Trap: Sri Lanka Owes Vast Majority To West, Not China

This July, Sri Lanka’s government was forced to resign, after hundreds of thousands of protesters stormed public buildings, setting some on fire, while also occupying the homes of the country’s leaders. The protests were driven by skyrocketing rates of inflation, as well as rampant corruption and widespread shortages of fuel, food, and medicine – a product of the country’s inability to pay for imports. In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt. In June, it tried to negotiate another structural adjustment program with the US-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF). This would have been Sri Lanka’s 17th IMF bailout, but the talks ended without a deal. By July, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe publicly admitted that his government was “bankrupt.”

Draft Agreement Reveals US Plan To Turn Sri Lanka Into Military Colony

The full text of the five page SOFA draft – which the Americans now also call the Visiting Forces Agreement to mislead locals – has been obtained by the Sunday Times and published in full. The text reveals incriminating details of demands made by the U.S. to accommodate their military forces and the free movement and passage for military personnel, vessels and aircraft in Sri Lankan territory. It also raises many questions regarding the U.S. agenda for Sri Lanka and raises serious doubts on the assurances given by U.S. Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz that a U.S. military base would not be established in the country. One of the agreement clauses specifically refers to waiving off of regulations or conditions for contracting material, equipment and supplies for services including constructions that are to be ‘furnished and undertaken in Sri Lanka’.

PM Resigns, President Flees: It’s All Happening In Sri Lanka

Massive protests rocked Sri Lanka on Saturday, July 9, leading to a collapse of government. In the morning, tens of thousands of protesters marched to the residence of the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who reportedly fled shortly before. By Saturday evening, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe resigned to make way for the formation of an all-party government. Reports also said the president had agreed to resign. An all-party meeting called by the Speaker of parliament also saw calls for the resignation of the president. On Saturday evening, protesters also gathered before the residence of the prime minister. Some of the protesters, including media personnel, were assaulted by security forces.

Reflections On The Sri Lankan Economic Crisis

So much has been written on the Sri Lankan economic crisis that the facts are by now quite well-known (see for instance C P Chandrasekhar, Frontline April 22): the massive build-up of external debt; the huge Value Added Tax concessions that pushed up the fiscal deficit and made the government borrow abroad even to spend domestically; the decline in foreign exchange earnings because of the pandemic that particularly hit tourist inflows; the downward pressure on the exchange rate which made many Sri Lankan workers choose the unofficial route to send their earnings home rather than the official route; the precipitous decline in foreign exchange reserves; the directive of the government to cut down on the use of chemical fertilizers to save foreign exchange that actually hit foodgrain output; and so on.

UN Discovery Of Secret Detention Centre Revives Nightmares

By Amantha Perera for IPS - COLOMBO Sri Lanka , Dec 21 2015 (IPS) - Details of a secret detention center, where serious human rights abuses took place, deep inside the sprawling Tricomalee Naval base in the east of Sri Lanka are slowly emerging. The site is nothing new to those who were held there. In June this year the South Africa-based International Truth and Justice Project, Sri Lanka (ITJPSL) launched a 134-page report on on-going human rights violations and past cases in Sri Lanka. The report titled An Unfinished War: Torture and Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka 2009-2014 said. They knew they were being held there, but their family members or others concerned about their state knew nothing of where they were held.
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