Colombo, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan security forces have been ordered to shoot law-breakers on sight in a bid to quell anti-government protests on the island.
Demonstrators are calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the island’s worst economic crisis in history.
On Monday, his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, stepped down as prime minister amid violent street clashes. But the resignation failed to bring calm and violence continued.
Yesterday, the government ordered troops to open fire on anyone looting public property or causing harm to life.
It also deployed tens of thousands of army, navy and air force personnel to patrol the streets of the capital Colombo. Despite their presence, the city’s top police officer was assaulted yesterday afternoon by a mob accusing him of not doing enough to protect peaceful protesters.
At Colombo’s Galle Face Green, on the sea front, crowds also continued to gather. Police say eight people have died and the capital’s main hospital says more than 215 people have been wounded since Monday.
Dharshana Handungoda, a Senior Journalist and prominent Socio-Political analyst in Sri Lanka, said Mahinda inadvertently informed security forces to attack and assault peaceful protestors, and they were subjected to “the most brutal attacks”.
“Former Prime Minister and current Member of Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa are directly responsible for these eight dead bodies, namely the criminal killings,” Marasinghe added.
The journalist urged the Bar Association to step in and suggested taking the case to court to sue Mahinda Rajapaksa for his “barbaric attacks” on civilians and arresting him to prevent him from leaving the country.
“The son of the Prime Minister who planned this has fled the country today (Tuesday),” Marasinghe said.
Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Member of Parliament, has urged defenseless people in the country to take to the streets, saying that expelling the Rajapaksa family from the country is the only way to end the crisis.
Meanwhile, Harinda Fonseca, founder and CEO of the Goodple Movement in Sri Lanka, accused Rajapaksa supporters of destroying the protest venue, saying that “courageous” people who are trying to build a better Sri Lanka are being attacked.