Sri Lanka declares public emergency over protests
Sri Lanka's authorities have declared a state of emergency as citizens took to the streets in light of soaring prices, inflation, and all-around shortages.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared Saturday a nationwide state of public emergency in light of protests over the country's worst economic crisis since its independence, which has paralyzed Colombo's ability to provide the citizens with electricity and even hit the healthcare sector really hard.
The president made the announcement in a government gazette on Friday, citing public security, the protection of public order, and the maintenance of supplies and essential services as the reason behind the decision he took.
The Sri Lankan police and military had arrested and assaulted protestors outside Rajapaksa's residents in the capital, who had gone there to storm his house over the stifling economic conditions.
The police arrested 53 people and imposed a curfew in and around Colombo on Friday in a bid to discourage civilians from taking to the street as they were protesting over the shortage of essential items and goods, including fuel and foodstuffs.
The nation is suffering from power blackouts as long as 13 hours a day as Colombo tries to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel following the pandemic that impeded Sri Lanka's vital tourism sector and foreign workers' remittances, not to mention public finances affected by tax cuts.
The Sri Lankan people are facing shortages and soaring inflation after the government devalued its currency ahead of talks with the IMF for a loan.
Following Thursday's round of police violence, at least 24 personnel were reported as injured by an official, who declined to comment on the number of protestors injured at the hands of the security apparatuses.
Amid stark concerns among Sri Lankans, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunge warned that such protests would take a toll on the country's economic prospects.
"The main issue Sri Lanka is facing is a forex shortage, and protests of this nature will hurt tourism and have economic consequences," he said.
The UN envoy to Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, called for all the groups involved in the protests to practice self-restraint. "We are monitoring developments and are concerned by reports of violence," she wrote on Twitter.
We are monitoring developments and are concerned by reports of violence in #SriLanka. Calling for restraint from all groups.— Hanaa Singer-Hamdy (@SingerHanaa) April 1, 2022
Earlier, the country canceled exams for millions of school students as the country ran out of printing paper with the country's capital, Colombo, running short on dollars, thus failing to finance imports, officials announced.
Sri Lanka's Census and Statistics Department said year-on-year inflation in December was the highest since the National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) was established in 2015, as consumer prices rose by a record 14%.