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Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Angry Sri Lankans want president to go

Cabinet members in Sri Lanka as well as the central bank governor have both been dismissed amid increasing anger over the rising fuel and food prices. the president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has invited all parties to be part of the new government. 

However, as the economic crisis in the country gets worse protesters who have been out to protest have said they will not be satisfied until Mr. Rajapaksa is forced to resign.

On an island brimming in anger and despair The chants and signs are directed mostly at one individual.

“Go Gota Go,” “Go Gota Go,” they’ll tell you.

Gota is the abbreviation for Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He is the country’s controversial president whom many blame for the plight that the people are in.

“He has to leave and he’s taken everything we have,” said Nadhie Wandurgala who defied the country’s curfew to demonstrate on Sunday along alongside her husband as well as two of their daughters.

While she sat in front of a hand-made poster, she told the way in which her family went from comfortable living to daily discomfort , interruptions to power that lasted between 17 and 17 hours long, a constant scramble for gas to cook, and long lines to purchase fuel for their cars.

“Even hospital pharmacies are running low on medicines Schools will soon run out papers for tests, but politicians are getting electricity each day.”

“They’ve never had to stand in long lines for gas or kerosene” she declared with a voice that was overflowing with contempt for the people in charge.

Nadhie isn’t a political activist nor an experienced protester. She is a member of the city’s clergy, and prefers to avoid politics. She’s also typical of the growing anti-government opinions that are connecting people from different kinds of backgrounds, beliefs and ages.

In the event that Sri Lanka runs low on reserves of foreign currency, the country has not been able to finance imports of basic commodities like fuel. A decline in tourism as a result of the pandemic is a factor and many feel that the president has mismanaged the problem.

Experts suggest that the policies implemented by Mr. Rajapaksa following his election in 2019 – hefty tax cuts as well as an import ban caused the crisis to worsen as well as his reluctance to seek help by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mr Rajapaksa has blamed the previous governments for the present situation However, many people like Nadhie’s daughter Anjalee think it’s high the right time to quit immediately and take all accountability.

As the level of discontent increases and fears mount that the government will try to block criticism of it.

Sunday’s curfew was just one of the measures designed to prevent the crowd from being able to gather. Also, there was a blackout on social media as well as a presidential order restricting the public from ” being in any public roadway or in a public park and on trains or along the beach” in the absence of signed permission in writing from the authorities.

Nadhie as well as Anjalee were among the thousands of people who risked arrest for an event, and took to the streets despite an warning to stay at home.

“I have come out today, because my rights have been stripped away. There’s nothing to lose now.”

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“Why do they even have this curfew? Do they want to safeguard us?” Anjalee mused. “It isn’t logical even”.

“I consider these brutal, autocratic and dictatorial actions,” opposition leader Sajith Premadasa spoke to me during an impetus protest on Sunday.

Mr. Premadasa and others from his party were detained at police barricades while trying to get into to the town’s Independence square.

“The Supreme Law of our Land guarantees the right of people to express their opinions, to display and participate in peaceful democratic activities which means that this right can’t be breached.”

It’s not the first time that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who runs the country along with his older brother, the Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of restricting freedom of expression.

They have a story that extends well beyond their election win in the year 2019.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has been president twice, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa is well known for his post as defence secretary after the government accused him of committing grave human rights violations during the latter phases of the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Both have a track record for brutally squeezing out discord.

In 2019, a year after the Easter Sunday terror attacks, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the majority of the support of the people, after declaring that he would be the ruler of Sri Lanka with a “strong hand”.

“People believed that they’d give us security for our nation however they weren’t.. They failed in every aspect,” said Roshinta, who said she didn’t vote for him.

“I would rather not watch my country go to waste due to one particular family. They’re so insistent and envious of power that they’ll likely stay.”

The day before, fury expressed against President Rajapaksa was directed at him right to his door, as protests in front of his home in Colombo became violent.

Police employed tear gas as well as water cannons to disperse crowds. Police also took away a number of protesters, as well as reporters who were covering the event.

In an email that was shared on Twitter, it was stated that the EU team in Colombo requested authorities in Sri Lankan authorities to “safeguard the rights of citizens to be democratic which includes the right to freely assembly and freedom of expression and must remain peaceful.”

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International said many of detained people had been abused during detention.

After Thursday’s protests the state of emergency was declared on the island, granting security forces broad power of detention and arrest The authorities stated that it was necessary to ensure the law and order of the island.

The night from Saturday to Sunday, officials from the Sri Lankan Western Province said they’d arrested over 600 people for breaking the curfew.

As we toured demonstrations in Colombo the police wearing police riot shields stood away from the crowds and sat watching.

“This was the very first occasion in my life when I’ve been a protester,” declared Sathsara as he stood on the edge of the park wearing the t-shirt of one of his favorite groups, Oasis.

“This is my only hope”

The 29-year-old copywriter for advertising who lives in the capital city of Colombo typically goes out on weekends to concerts and having dinner with friends, but has stopped.

“We are at the zenith of our lives, but how will we be able to realize our goals with all this going on?”

With power outages occurring every day and food prices rising, Sathsara says his bank balance is shrinking, and his plight grows desperate.

“Give us a president who is able to manage this. The one we have isn’t caring for us.” the man said.

In another demonstration of mostly young families Suchitra with her 15-month-old son said she was exhausted from the power interruptions that do not let his son sleep.

“The members of parliament aren’t fit. They’ve caused the country to be in chaos,” he said.

“They’ve failed to keep their word, and people shouldn’t endure any more.”

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