COLOMBO: An international human rights organization has urged Sri Lanka’s new president to immediately instruct security personnel to stop all unlawful use of force against protestors who have been demonstrating against the government for months over the country’s economic collapse.
A day after President Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Thursday (July 21), hundreds of armed troops raided a protest camp outside the president’s office in the early hours of Friday, beating demonstrators with batons in a move that Human Rights Watch described as “sending a dangerous message to the Sri Lankan people that the new government intends to act through brute force rather than the rule of law.”
During the crackdown, troops also attacked two journalists and two lawyers. Eleven persons were arrested by security personnel, including demonstrators and lawyers.
“Urgently required actions to alleviate Sri Lankans’ economic needs necessitate a government that respects fundamental rights,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement issued early Saturday.
“Sri Lanka’s international partners should send a strong statement that they would not back an administration that violates its people’s rights,” she added.
Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, was inaugurated in as president a week after his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled the country when demonstrators invaded his mansion. Rajapaksa resigned subsequently, while in exile in Singapore.