Fri, 22 Jul 2022 10:45 AM IST
Chaos erupted in Sri Lanka on early Friday after the country's armed forces and police personnel raided the main anti-government protest camp in the capital city of Colombo, a day after Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the next president of the island nation.
Several pictures and videos have gone viral on social media in which the armed forces personnel, armed with assault rifles, could be seen tearing down the camps of the protesters set up by them in April amid the worsening economic crisis.
"A joint operation involving the military, police and police special forces was launched in the early hours to recover the presidential secretariat from the protesters as they have no legal right to hold it," police spokesperson Nalin Thalduwa told Reuters.
"Nine people, including two injured, have been arrested."
The protesters had feared that such a cracdown might take place after Wickremesinghe, a six-time Prime Minister, became the country's next President. They consider Wickremesinghe, 73, an ally of ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has fled to Singapore.
They have claimed that nearly 50 protesters were injured in the crackdown, noting that some journalists were also attacked by the police personnel.
"They beat us really cruelly," Reuters quoted a 34-year-old protester Buddhika Abeyrathne - who witnessed the raid but did not appear injured himself - as saying. "Mr Wickremesinghe doesn't know what democracy is."
UN OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONCERNS
The United Nations (UN) has expressed concerns over the crackdown on protesters, calling for all stakeholders in the country to engage in broad and inclusive consultations to resolve the current economic crisis and the grievances of the people.
"The situation in the country continues to deteriorate, with over 70 per cent of households either losing their source of income or having their income reduced. In June, food inflation stood at 80 per cent," Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said.
The United States (US) also concerns over the situation in Sri Lanka.
"Deeply concerned about actions taken against protestors at Galle Face in the middle of the night. We urge restraint by authorities and immediate access to medical attention for those injured," US Ambassador to Colombo Julie Chun said in a tweet.