Sri Lanka imposes curfew until April 4 morning

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invokes tough laws that allow the military to arrest and detain suspects without warrants.

Updated - April 03, 2022 12:45 am IST

Published - April 02, 2022 04:30 pm IST - COLOMBO

Sri Lankans participate in a protest demanding president Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign, before the beginning of curfew in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, April 2, 2022.

Sri Lankans participate in a protest demanding president Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign, before the beginning of curfew in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, April 2, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Sri Lanka has declared a weekend curfew, ahead of mass protests planned by citizens’ groups challenging the government over its “failed” response to a heightening economic crisis in the island nation.  

The curfew was effective from Saturday evening until Monday morning, the police said. The move comes a day after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared an Emergency, that gives sweeping powers to law enforcement authorities. On Saturday, armed military men were deployed in many areas, in the wake of a recent protest outside Mr. Rajapaksa’s home. A proclamation from the President said the Emergency was in the interests of “public security, the protection of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community.”

Hours before the curfew took effect, a few hundred citizens gathered near the Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) – Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre in Colombo. They held posters saying “Gota go home” and “End family rule”, as they demanded a change in the country’s leadership. Scores of vehicles passing by during the city’s busy evening traffic tooted their horns in solidarity.

“This government has failed me, failed everyone, failed our country. We are asking for a change just so we remember how beautiful out country is,” said Sumini Siyambalapitiya, a researcher.

A middle-aged protestor said she was joining the agitations because she wants her children to have a safe future in the country. Expressing anger over the imposition of the curfew, she asked: “This is to make sure we don’t protest. The President is supposed to be a war hero. Why is he afraid of civilians?” she asked, asking not to be named. “With these people, you can’t say what they will do.”

Watch | Protests in Sri Lanka before the country goes into curfew

The government’s decision to impose the Emergency on Friday too has drawn criticism from senior lawyers. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka said it was “gravely concerned” by the move that it said was “not the answer” to Sri Lanka’s present situation. The ongoing protests reflected “the desperate situation” of people seeking some of the most basic essentials, a statement said, adding that the Emergency “must not be used to stifle peaceful protests and dissent or to make arbitrary arrests and detentions.”

Opposition MP and prominent lawyer M.A. Sumanthiran said in a tweet: “We call upon #President @GotabayaR to immediately rescind this gazette notification. You cannot stifle protests and opposition to the regime by declaring a state of #emergency. I call upon fellow members of #Parliament not to approve this ill-advised move.”

Sri Lanka has been witnessing a series of protests for over a month by citizens who are demanding that the President and his government step down. The public outcry is in response to long power cuts and persisting shortage of essentials, including food items and fuel. India has been extending emergency support, including through a $ 500 million credit line for fuel imports. On Saturday, a consignment of 40,000 MT of diesel from India was handed over to Sri Lankan authorities. So far nearly 2 lakh MT of fuel from Indian Oil Corporation has arrived in Sri Lanka as part of this Line of Credit.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.