The death of a Sri Lankan man, who was killed when police fired live rounds at protesters, injuring 14 others, has sparked outrage.
On social media, footage of cops opening fire in the central town of Rambukkana of Srilanka has gone viral. Although police said they used “little force” to disperse demonstrators, many people have questioned why live rounds were used. The UN representative in Sri Lanka, as well as the US and EU envoys, have all condemned the act. It comes at a time when the country is experiencing its biggest economic crisis since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1948.
Since Sri Lanka ran out of money for basic imports, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets, causing prices of essential commodities to rise and severe shortages of fuel, medications, and electricity. Protesters are calling on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign, blaming his policies for the crisis, but he has refused. Mr Rajapaksa acknowledged that he committed a number of “mistakes” that contributed to the crisis, but his nomination of a new government on Monday enraged many Sri Lankans.
Police say “they had to fire”
On Tuesday, there were protests around the country as Sri Lanka’s largest fuel retailer raised prices by over 65 percent. Essential food goods such as wheat flour also saw price increases on Tuesday. According to BBC Sinhala’s Ranga Sirilal, protesters in Rambukkana had been demonstrating for almost 15 hours, demanding fuel. Thousands of enraged cars and bus drivers also set fire to tyres and blocked the adjoining highway connecting Colombo and Kandy.
Here’s a clip of the video where the protestors are assaulted by the SriLanka Police:
Warning: Some people may find this video distressing. Viewer’s discretion is advised!!
Video circulating in Facebook, Sri Lanka Police brutally assaulting protesters #SriLankaCrisis pic.twitter.com/kEKU1w37Ew— NewsWire 🇱🇰 (@NewsWireLK) April 19, 2022
At least three of the injured demonstrators are in critical condition, according to reports. Mihiri Priyangani, director of the Kegalle Teaching Hospital, told Reuters that the guy who died was most likely shot. “We suspect gunshot wounds, but a post-mortem is required to determine the specific cause of death.” “To keep the protesters under control, police had to use firearms. They also set fire to some tyres, necessitating police fire to disperse them “Nihal Talduwa, a police spokeswoman, said the BBC. Authorities claim that the crowd threw stones and other objects at officers, wounding a number of them, but many people are questioning why live bullets were used.
Mr Rajapaksa, who came to office in 2019, vowing stability and a “hard hand” to manage the country, has seen his popularity skyrocket in the wake of the protests. The main causes of the issue, according to critics, are corruption and nepotism (his brothers and nephews held numerous key ministerial roles). Apart from the president’s elder brother Mahinda, who continued his role as prime minister, his new cabinet comprised some party stalwarts but was devoid of Rajapaksa family members.
Sri Lankan authorities were on their way to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to solicit emergency financial assistance when the latest event occurred.
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