Photo courtesy of Twitter
After 30 days of peaceful protests, the Rajapaksa regime unleashed its thugs on the protesters outside Temple Trees. After demolishing the tents and assaulting the people gathered there, the thugs proceeded to Galle Face where they destroyed the tents at GotaGoGama including the medical tent and the library, as police watched. Finally the police began to disperse the attackers with water cannon and tear gas. Riot police have been called in to control the situation as lawyers and office workers came out to protect the protesters. A country wide curfew has been imposed.
People were already getting together to rebuild GotaGoGama from the ruins.
Condemnation for the attacks on the peaceful protesters came in immediately. Amnesty International said, “Sri Lanka: The state has a duty to create an enabling environment for peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. As such, it must take necessary, reasonable and proportionate measures to de-escalate the violence at peaceful protest sites, in order to protect the right to protest of those who have been peacefully agitating for one month. Amidst reports of injuries sustained by peaceful protestors and of inadequate protection provided by police to guarantee the right to protest, the State must ensure prompt, fair investigations and bring those responsible for such violence to justice.”
Television channels live streamed graphic footage of the destruction and the brutal attacks of unarmed people by thugs carrying metal poles. Several people have been hospitalised.
“The use of pro-govt thugs to attack peaceful protestors was always one of the more likely ways the Rajapaksa government would try to cling to power – despite virtually the whole country wanting them gone. This changes political dynamic in major and dangerous ways,” warned Alan Keenan from the International Crisis Group.
“The Rajapaksas are fascists, the SLPP is a fascist party. Their instincts are always violent, their endgame is always the control of the state. Some should think again if political agreements, interim governments, and above all, constitutional change can be done with fascists,” tweeted Dr. Asanga Welikala, Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Edinburgh.
Former cricketing stars Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene also condemned the attacks on the peaceful protesters. “These thugs was assembled at prime minister’s official residence this morning and walked in numbers to assault innocent peaceful anti government protesters..how can this happen? Police and others just watching this,” said Mahela.
“Strongly condemn the violent acts taking place by those inciting & participating, irrespective of political allegiances. Violence won’t solve the current problems. I request all citizens to remain calm & exercise restraint. I urge everyone to work together in solving this crisis,” said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was expected to resign today but instead brought busloads of his supporters to plead with him to stay on, tweeted, “While emotions are running high in #lka, I urge our general public to exercise restraint & remember that violence only begets violence. The economic crisis we’re in needs an economic solution which this administration is committed to resolving.” To which Kumar Sangakkara replied, “The only violence was perpetrated by your “supporters” – goons and thugs who came to your office first before going on to assault the peaceful protestors.”
“Every single time the Rajapaksas take the back alley instead of the high road. Violence, Emergency laws and fake followers will not stop the momentum of change. Expect serious repercussions if any peaceful protestors or media are harmed,” opposition leader Sajith Premadasa warned.
The Bar Association called on the IGP and the police to take immediate action to prevent the protesters from being attacked. “There will be grave repercussions to the Government, the IGP and the police if they fail to take action to deal with this situation,” the Bar Association said.
“These thugs of the regime who attacked the peaceful protestors came to the Prime Minister’s residence on his invitation, and walked miles beating unarmed civilians. What was the police doing all that time? Is this what the President declared emergency regulations for?” asked former speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
US Ambassador Julie Chung said, “We condemn the violence against peaceful protestors today, and call on the government to conduct a full investigation, including the arrest & prosecution of anyone who incited violence. Our sympathies are with those injured today and we urge calm and restraint across the island.”
British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton said, “Strongly condemn the violence against peaceful protestors today. The authorities have a responsibility to safeguard citizens’ rights to protest peacefully and to hold the perpetrators of violence to account.”
“Trending memes right now suggest GGG 2.0 is going to be stronger, more networked, more diverse, and bigger. Today’s violence clearest indication Rajapaksas just don’t get it. You can’t shoot, kill, tear gas away this protest,” according Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa.
There was some push back with the thugs pushed into the Beira Lake near Temple Trees and buses being attacked as they left.
All government and private sector trade unions, including port, railway and postal workers jointly decide to call a general strike from now on to protest the brutal attack on peaceful protesters carried out by the supporters of the Rajapaksa regime.
Latest news reports said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned.