Sri Lanka lifts curfew after fierce opposition to illegal move

Sri Lanka is witnessing a fresh wave of resistance to the government’s failed response to the aggravating economic crisis

July 09, 2022 08:00 am | Updated 08:23 am IST - COLOMBO

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas towards police members as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators near President’s residence during a protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 8, 2022

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas towards police members as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators near President’s residence during a protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, amid the country’s economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, July 8, 2022 | Photo Credit: Reuters

Sri Lanka on Saturday lifted the “police curfew” imposed Friday night,after the political opposition, lawyers, and rights groups fiercely opposed the “illegal” move.

On Friday night authorities declared a curfew, ahead of mass anti-government protests scheduled on Saturday in the capital Colombo. “There is nothing called ‘police curfew’ under the Police Ordinance. The declaration of curfew is illegal and a blatant violation of fundamental rights,” the Bar Association of Sri Lanka noted.

“Do not attempt to do indirectly what you could not do directly,” the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka told authorities, referring to an attempt by the government to obtain a court order preventing the protest march. Days ago, a magistrate court rejected an appeal of the public prosecutor to restrain public protests planned on Saturday. “The police cannot impose a police curfew in anticipation of a breach of peace when there were no complaints of any such acts,” the Commission said, adding: “Alarmingly the army is ordered to gather troops to maintain law and order. These are illegal orders.”

Sri Lanka is witnessing a fresh wave of resistance to the government’s failed response to the aggravating economic crisis that has left citizens scrambling for essentials. The island nation has run out of fuel as it struggles to find dollars to pay for imports, after Indian credit lines were exhausted.

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