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Friday, May 24, 2024

Sri Lankan soldiers have destroyed the main protest camp

Early on Friday morning, a large military contingent, along with police, carried out an operation at Galle Face in Colombo. This is the location where anti-government protesters have been peacefully demonstrating for over three months in response to the severe economic crisis facing the island nation. According to eyewitness accounts, a number of protestors were physically attacked by military.

The military attack on the main agitation site comes less than 24 hours after Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President, in the midst of political upheaval on the island after dramatic residents’ protests on July 9 led to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa escaping Sri Lanka. The protests were in response to the fact that Rajapaksa had fled the country as a result of corruption allegations against him. On Monday, Mr. Wickremesinghe, who was serving as Acting President at the time, announced the nation was in a state of Emergency, two days before a significant vote in parliament in which he was elected President.

Sajith Premadasa, the head of the opposition, described the incident as “a cowardly attack on peaceful protesters,” who had agreed to depart the sites earlier today.

According to a tweet that he sent out, he referred to the incident as “A meaningless show of ego and brutal force putting innocent lives at risk and harming Sri Lanka’s worldwide image, at a vital moment.”

Many people were taken aback when the military violently seized control of the protest location in the early hours of Friday morning. Activists had already indicated that they would leave the area by Friday afternoon. At least eight people, including activists and legal representatives, were taken into custody.

Eyewitnesses claim that at about 2:00 a.m., troops attacked the area and violently removed protestors’ tents that had been set up at the agitation site. This included tents belonging to members of the deaf community as well as tents belonging to soldiers who had disabilities. According to various reports at the scene, they assaulted a large number of protestors, particularly those who were attempting to videotape the happenings.

According to the most recent reports, a few of the tents that were set up on the parcel of land close to the Shangri-La Hotel were destroyed. Following the pre-dawn military assault on the protest site, the entrance to the stretch of road that leads to the Presidential Secretariat, which begins at the New Baladaksha Mw-Galle Road junction, was sealed. All of the tents along this section have been taken down and packed away.

A few hours after demonstrators were attacked by the army, the police said that they would make arrangements for those who were wounded to be transported to a hospital.

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