Sri Lanka gives orders to shoot
NAfter two chaotic and violent days and nights, the situation in Sri Lanka remains tense. The Ministry of Defense has ordered security forces to fire during looting and threats of life-threatening violence. In the night of Wednesday there were again cases of rioting and arson in a place not far from the capital Colombo. People set fire to houses, shops and vehicles in Negombo. Among other things, broke in a hotel, the owner of which was noisy BBC said to be the son of the resigned prime minister, a fire broke out. The nationwide curfew was initially extended until Thursday. Police and military patrol the streets.
At least eight people were killed and 200 injured on Monday. Dozens of houses and cars belonging to the ruling party politicians burned down, including offices of the president’s and prime minister’s family, ministers and MPs. Photo spreads in the local media showed a battlefield with burnt-out buses and cars. Two police officers and a member of parliament are said to be among the dead. Some private houses of bystanders are said to have become the target of looting and arson.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa called on citizens to remain calm and stop the violence and acts of revenge. Political stability should be restored by consensus. He warned of possible ethnic and religious conflicts that had led to violence in the past. Larger minorities of Tamils and Muslims live in the predominantly Buddhist-Singhalese country. “I call on all Sri Lankans to reject the subversive attempts to push them towards racial and religious disharmony,” the President wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. Citizens must stand together to master the “economic, social and political challenges.”
Opposition wants break with Rajapaksas
The violence was preceded by four weeks of largely peaceful protests. The people make the president and his brother, the now resigned prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, responsible for the economic crisis that has led to price explosions, food and fuel shortages. They are therefore also demanding the resignation of the President.
“The current political crisis is much more dangerous than the economic crisis,” political scientist Ranga Kalansooriya wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. On Monday, government supporters attacked the demonstrators with fists and iron bars and destroyed and burned down the tents of a protest camp. After that, the anti-government protesters apparently went on a vendetta against pro-government politicians. As a result, houses and cars burned, and a statue of the Rajapaksa brothers’ father was toppled. According to press reports, demonstrators temporarily controlled the road to the airport so that no members of the government could flee abroad. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned after the unrest, was reportedly taken to a naval base in Trincomalee on the northeast coast Tuesday morning for his safety. Thousands of demonstrators had previously stormed his residence in Colombo. The police stopped them from storming the private rooms of the residence with tear gas and warning shots. Reports that the politician fled to India have been dismissed.
As a result of his resignation, the cabinet is also dissolved, so that there is now talk of a “power vacuum”. When he resigned, the prime minister said that the best solution to the crisis was the formation of an interim government of all parties. However, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa on Wednesday declined to become prime minister as long as the president remains in office. Everyone involved, including the President, must take responsibility for the violence. “The Rajapaksas bear full responsibility for the destruction they have unleashed. They must be held accountable for their criminal activities,” Premadasa said.