Sri Lanka crisis: Politicians’ houses on fire

The situation in the Asian country is deteriorating as it is struggling with a very serious economic crisis. Despite curfews across national territory, some protesters attacked houses and historic residences of representatives of institutions, including the president’s.

Andrea De Angelis – Vatican City State

The curfew, the resignation of the Prime Minister, the order to shoot in sight. The chaos in Sri Lanka is escalating as the hours go by, and has seen a noticeable deterioration this week as the now former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was evacuated with her family to a secret location after his residence was taken over by protesters. Then the escalation: Rajapaksa’s home and several other houses of parliamentarians and ministers were set on fire by the people who took to the streets yesterday.

A soldier on duty at a checkpoint in Colombo (Reuters / Dinuka Liyanawatte)

A soldier on duty at a checkpoint in Colombo (Reuters / Dinuka Liyanawatte)

Sri Lankan police this morning arrested at least 12 people after renewed protests in front of the national parliament building. The local press reported that the protesters had gathered along Jayanthipura Road, near the parliament building, and displayed signs and banners in support of a vote of confidence against the government.

Dead and wounded

The number, quite tentatively, is 7 dead and hundreds of wounded. Rajapaksa himself, who had withdrawn on Monday precisely because of the widespread protests, was rescued during a military operation: Hundreds of protesters had attacked his official residence in Colombo and tried to set fire to the main building where the former prime minister was with his own family. and some political advisers. Yesterday, probably the most exciting day, ended with the license “to shoot on sight”. The Minister of Defense issued an order in the evening authorizing agents to open fire “against anyone who damages public property or causes damage”.

Calls for dialogue

At the end of Wednesday’s General Audience, the Pope launched a strong call for dialogue and addressed “a special thought” to the people of Sri Lanka, “especially to the young people who have recently made their cries heard in the face of challenges and to the country’s social and economic problems “. Francis joins the “religious authorities” in the Asian country “to urge all parties involved to maintain a peaceful attitude without giving in to violence”. Then the appeal “to all those responsible, to listen to the aspirations of the people, who guarantee full respect for human rights and civil liberties”. In these hours, there are numerous appeals from the highest religious authorities in the country, the UN and the EU, which have criticized the violence. From the Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Ranjith to the Buddhist leader Omalbe Thera, from Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Joseph Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the recommendation was to moderate and favor dialogue between the parties and respect for human rights.

The financial crisis

South of India, with 22 million inhabitants, Sri Lanka is experiencing one of the worst economic crises in its history. The desperation of the population is linked to the growing shortage of food, fuel and medicine, with a situation that in recent months has also been exacerbated by the pandemic and, more recently, by the rise in commodity and energy prices. Protesters have also called for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of the former prime minister, for weeks.

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