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Sri Lanka Students Defy Curfew, Cops Use Water Cannons And Tear Gas: 10 Points

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Sri Lanka students in Kandy defied a weekend curfew imposed by the government to protest against Sri Lanka’s worsening economic crisis. The country is facing severe shortages of food, fuel and other essentials, along with crippling power cuts.

Students are protesting outside the Peradeniya against the economic crisis. Cops used tear gas and water cannon to try and disperse the protesters, who are defying a weekend curfew imposed by the government.

More than 100 people joined the march by Opposition leaders in capital Colombo before it was stopped near the home of opposition leader Sajith Premadasa by a large group of police and soldiers carrying assault rifles.

The Sri Lanka government on Saturday blocked access to all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and YouTube, in its latest bid to quell protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“The social media block is temporary and imposed due to special instructions given by the Defence Ministry, the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission said. 

“It was imposed in the interests of the country and people to maintain calm,” Jayantha de Silva, the Commission’s Chairman, told Reuters.

The curfew in Sri Lanka, which began on Saturday 6pm, has been imposed till  Monday 6 am – a period that covers planned mass anti-government protests against worsening shortages of fuel, food and medicines. 

Sri Lanka Military With The Power To Arrest Without Trial

At least 664 people have beeen arrested for violating the curfew, officials said.

The curfew in Sri Lanka and state of emergency in the near-bankrupt country came as social media posts called for protests on Sunday.

“Do not be deterred by tear gas, very soon they will run out of dollars to re-stock,” said one post encouraging people to demonstrate even if police attempt to break up gatherings.

The tough laws allow the military to arrest and detain suspects for long periods without trial.

In his defence, Mr Rajapaksa has said that the state of emergency was needed to protect public order and maintain essential supplies and services.

“#GoHomeRajapaksas” and “#GotaGoHome” have been trending for days on Twitter and Facebook in the island nation, which is battling severe shortages of essentials, sharp price rises and crippling power cuts in its most painful downturn since independence from Britain in 1948.

The ongoing crisis – the result of economic mismanagement by successive governments – has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit tourism and remittances.

It has also marked a sharp turnaround in political support for Mr. Rajapaksa, who swept to power in 2019 promising stability.

The government has said it is seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and loans from India and China.

New Delhi recently announced that it will extend a USD 1 billion line of credit to Colombo as part of its financial assistance to the country to deal with the economic crisis following a previous $500 billion line of credit (LoC) in February to help it purchase petroleum products.

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