Sri Lanka cricket stars come out in support of anti-government protests: ‘This is state-backed violence’

A number of Sri Lankan cricketing legends have come collectively to criticise the Mahinda Rajapaksa authorities because the toll of political violence rose to eight amid a crippling financial disaster that has plagued the nation for months.

Hundreds of Sri Lankans have taken to the streets demanding the resignations of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who stepped down as prime minister this week, over a debt disaster that has led to a scarcity of gas, meals and different necessities.

Sri Lanka is on the verge of chapter after suspending fee of $7bn of overseas loans it was because of pay this yr out of a $25bn due by 2026. Sri Lanka’s whole overseas debt stands at $51bn.

The protests, which have been largely peaceable, turned violent on Monday after pro-government supporters attacked an illustration outdoors the prime minister’s workplace in capital Colombo. The mob surrounded the protesters, beating them up with metal rods and batons and destroying and setting fireplace to the premises.

When the police and navy arrived, they reportedly allowed the Rajapaksa supporters to proceed their assaults. The violence unfold throughout the island nation as police responded with water cannons and teargas.

Irked anti-government protesters attacked ruling social gathering politicians, set fireplace to homes of ministers and different pro-government parliamentarians, in addition to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s home in his constituency Kurunegala, the Rajapaksa’s ancestral residence simply outdoors Colombo, and a boutique resort owned by one in every of his sons.

Based on the nation’s defence ministry, eight folks, together with a lawmaker and two cops, have been killed, whereas over 200 folks sustained accidents within the carnage. Over 100 buildings and 60 automobiles had been burned, it mentioned.

Former Lankan cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara referred to as the violence “despicable” and accused the federal government of backing it.

“Peaceable protestors demanding for his or her fundamental wants and rights attacked by despicable thugs and goons backed by the thugs and goons within the authorities. Disgusting. That is state-backed violence. Intentional and deliberate,” he wrote on Twitter.

Former skipper and the present guide coach of Sri Lanka nationwide cricket crew Mahela Jayawardene shared a video of a girl being attacked in “entrance of cops” and tore into the ruling authorities.

In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: “Violence won’t obtain the Change all of us in search of for and really wonderful self-discipline everybody confirmed for the final 30 days. So please let’s not let vested curiosity take over folks energy.”

Mr Jayawardene additionally used the hashtag “GoGotaGo”, which has been the clarion name for the Rajapaksa dynasty to collectively resign.

In one other tweet, he mentioned: “Historical past has given us classes of civil struggle and mistrust amongst folks by race and faith disharmony.. Additionally the way it’s been used as a weapon to fulfil personal agendas.. Divided We Fall and United We Stand Sturdy At all times suppose as Sri Lankan!!”

Wanindu Hasaranga, a member of the nationwide crew, wrote on Monday: “Cowardly and Barbaric! Two phrases that sum up at present’s assault on harmless and peaceable Sri Lankan protesters.”

“I’m disillusioned to even suppose we’ve got such management in our nation,” he added.

Veteran cricketer Roshan Mahanama joined the agitation at Galle Face in Colombo this week and urged protesters to indicate “opposition to the federal government in a peaceable method”.

“Staying at residence whereas watching the nation go into chaos was not an choice. As quickly as doable, I walked to Galle Face from residence final afternoon to face in solidarity with the guy protesters and to indicate my help in direction of the combat towards the corrupt, energy hungry leaders of the nation…,” he wrote.

Earlier in April, former cricketer Sanath Jayasuriya had joined the protest in Colombo. “It’s unlucky that the individuals are going by this example. They can not survive like this and have began to protest. There’s a scarcity of gasoline and no electrical energy provide for hours,” he mentioned on the time.

Sri Lankan authorities on Wednesday deployed armoured automobiles and troops on the streets of the capital, a day after the defence ministry ordered the armed forces to shoot at any individuals damaging public property or threatening lives.

Kamal Gunaratne, a prime defence ministry official, denied allegations of a navy takeover. “None of our officers have a need to take over the federal government. It has by no means occurred in our nation and it’s not simple to do it right here,” mentioned Mr Gunaratne.

Following Monday’s violence, prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his household fled the official residence as hundreds of protesters tried to interrupt in. The president, nevertheless, remained at his official residence guarded by the navy and police.

New Delhi has denied claims that “sure political individuals and their households” have fled to India. It has additionally rejected hypothesis that India was sending troops into Colombo.

India on Tuesday assured Sri Lanka of its help, saying that New Delhi has prolonged help of $3.5bn to assist it overcome the disaster, moreover sending important objects like meals and drugs.

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