What is happening in Sri Lanka?

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Why do People protest in Sri Lanka?

#GoHomeGota2022 is one trending topic in many countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Germany and the Rest of the World. But this hashtag is completely relevant to an Island Nation in the Indian Ocean, “Sri Lanka”. If you want to understand how it happened, read til the end.

Gota is the shorter version name of Mr Gotabaya Rajapakse, the president of this Island Nation. Mr Rajapakse was elected in November 2019 as the President of Sri Lanka for 5 years period. But, now Sri Lankan People demand that Mr Rajapakse go home by conducting massive protests across the country. Unlike other scenarios, these protests are not organized by opposition parties of the Country. These protests are organized by the general public and civil societies like trade unions.

Public demands to go home not just President but also for all politicians in power including the opposition.

Mr Gotabaya Rajapakse is from a political family. His brother Mr Mahinda Rajapakse was the president of Sri Lanka when Sri Lanka fought and won the civil war which was started four decades ago. It was ended by defeating LTTE Tamil separatists who fought in the North and East in May 2009. After that, Mr Mahinda Rajapakse became a national hero. And Mr Gotabaya Rajapakse was serving as the secretary to the Ministry of Defense. At that time, Mr Mahinda Rajapakse was the defence minister in addition to holding office as President. So, Mr Gotabaya played a huge role in managing defence matters in the country.

However, in January 2015 Mr Mahinda Rajapakse was defeated in the Presidential election and Mr Maithripala Sirisena from the common opposition was elected. Mr Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime was accused of corruption and very serious human rights violations. Rajapakse family members were holding very powerful ministries and positions in the country. So, a new President was elected and he was trying to bring up more civilized policies to ensure democracy, human rights and civil rights in the country. However, on the 21st of April 2019 extreme group conducted 9 bomb attacks in the country targeting Catholic, Christian Churches and 5-star tourist hotels. nearly 300 people died and 500 people were injured. Despite the effort to ensure civilized policies in the country, the Government was criticized for not preventing the attack even after 97 warnings received from foreign intelligence agencies.

Then, the public was concerned about security. Rajapakse family was getting back their reputation among people. In the very same year, Nov 2019 Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the election and became the President.

But his government was criticized for mismanagement of the Economy with the Covid pressure of covid. When all southern Asian countries managed to grow their foreign reserves even under a pandemic situation, Sri Lanka couldn’t do it. The foreign reserves of Sri Lanka have been fallen by 79%. It is highly unusual when compares to other south Asian countries. Even Afghanistan managed to secure 11 billion USD reserve after 30 years of war.

With this foreign reserve shortage and highly mismanaged economy Fuel, Gas, Milk Powder and other essential shortages occur in Sri Lanka. Long queues were seen across the nation. 13 hours power cut was announced and occurred. People were protesting across the nation. On the 31st of March 2022, People blocked the access road of Sri Lanka’s President’s private residence.

Anti-riot forces deployed and several civilians and journalists were assaulted. Meanwhile, the #GoHomeGota2022 hashtag was trending on Social Media Platforms and among Sri Lankans.

3rd of April, 2022, a Massive protesting campaign was organized across the nation. However, President Gotabaya Rajapakse declared a curfew across the country and the Ministry of Defence advised the Sri Lanka telecommunications Commission to restrict access to social media and chat apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Telegram.

Despite the curfew, some people protested. And many Sri Lankan used VPNs to access social media. The result was huge. When Millions of users come to social media from foreign IPs, the #GoHomeGota2022 hashtag was trending across the globe. Parallelly, Sri Lankans live or work abroad, organized protests from Los Angeles to Tokyo, London to Melbourne. Dubai to Christchurch. In a matter of hours, #GoHomeGota2022 came to the headlines of International Media. For that reason and after the objections of civil and official bodies, SLTRC lifted the social media access restriction on the same day, the 3rd of April even before reaching 12 hours.

So, the protests are continuing and the public demands to resign All Rajapakse family members who hold positions in Government. Unlike similar protests that happened in other countries, these campaigns are comparatively peaceful yet.

However, the future cannot be unpredictable. When some parties tried to violate the rights of the people, hundreds of Lawyers including the BAR association of the country, stepped forward and appeared to the public.

Foot Note is People of Sri Lanka, especially the young generation is demanding a clear system change in politics. Only two parties have been in power in Sri Lanka since independence.

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