Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Amid Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa Declares State of Emergency

The state of emergency gives the police and the security forces power to arbitrarily arrest and detain people.
May 7, 2022
Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka
Anti-government protest in Sri Lanka 2022. Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on Friday, 6 May, declared a state of emergency, which will come into effect from midnight (7 May), giving security forces sweeping powers amid anti-government protests, AFP reported.

This is the second time in the last five weeks that an emergency has been declared in the nation. Rajapaksa had declared the emergency on April 1 also after a mass protest opposite his private residence. He had revoked it on April 5.

A spokesman for the President said he invoked the tough laws to “ensure public order” after trade unions staged a nationwide strike Friday demanding his resignation over a worsening economic crisis.

Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis in its history with the shortage of essentials, and power outages caused by a severe forex crisis.

Earlier today, the police again fired tear gas and water cannon at students trying to storm Sri Lanka’s parliament as the country was brought to a halt by a trade union strike demanding the government step down.

Officers fired a barrage of tear gas followed by water cannon from two trucks, but the crowd quickly reassembled behind police barricades set up to block access to the parliament.

Also Read: Economic Crisis May Lead to Higher Death Toll Than COVID-19, Warn Sri Lanka Doctors

It was the second time police tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas, after an earlier unsuccessful attempt on Thursday afternoon.

Millions of workers stayed off the job today in a strike organised by the country’s trade union movement, with all but one scheduled train service cancelled. Privately owned buses were off the roads while industrial workers demonstrated outside their factories and black flags were hung across the country in an expression of anger against the government.

Since April 9, the protesters have been staying near the presidential secretariat in the ‘Gota go home gama’ or Gotabaya Go home village and since April 26 the ‘Mynah go home village’ or ‘Mahinda Go Home Village’.

Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.