Protests in Sri Lanka have turned violent amid power, food and medicine shortages

NPR’s Adrian Florido talks with journalist Sulochana Ramiah about Sri Lanka’s protests, which have turned violent. The nation is in disaster, with energy blackouts and meals shortages.


Sri Lanka is in disaster. There are energy blackouts and meals shortages. Protests have turned violent. Amid this turmoil, final week, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned. His youthful brother, Gotabaya, stays president.

Here to stroll us by way of what is going on on is journalist Sulochana Ramiah Mohan. She joins us from Wattala, Sri Lanka. Sulochana, welcome.

SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN: Thank you very a lot.

FLORIDO: What are the situations on the bottom the place you’re? What are you seeing?

MOHAN: Things will not be so nice, though the curfew is imposed. People are struggling. Even throughout the curfew occasions, there have been individuals gathered close to gas station for gasoline. The vitality disaster is so large right here proper now.

FLORIDO: Tell me about a number of the violence. How dangerous did it get?

MOHAN: The violence went out of hand. In reality, they took everyone in shock as a result of there have been these 2,000 people who find themselves the followers of the prime minister. And they gathered at his official residence, and so they began marching in the direction of – in 1000’s in the direction of the peaceable protest that was occurring within the metropolis of Colombo. And they destroyed these tents and the individuals who have been gathered there, the clergymen, the monks. And they began hitting them so badly, and so they ran helter-skelter.

These individuals, the protesters in Colombo caught them. They have been so indignant that the prime minister had instigated this violence, so that they charged at his residence, and so they set hearth to the primary gate of the prime minister’s official residence. And then it turned out to be extraordinarily dangerous. And they began attacking the present authorities. Nearly 36 authorities politicians’ residence, workplaces and a few resorts have been all set on hearth inside in a single day.

FLORIDO: Well, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa final week tried to quell numerous this pressure by lastly accepting the resignation of his brother, the prime minister, and bringing in a former prime minister. Who is that this new prime minister? And do you suppose that this transfer will assist to ease a few of this pressure?

MOHAN: He’s not a brand new face to the political scene – platform right here. He was the five-times prime minister. And he is a really, very clever man. He is an economist himself, extremely certified. He is aware of his historical past. He is aware of the geopolitics. But this prime minister is a really shut pal of the Rajapaksas, so this is the reason the persons are opposing even the brand new prime minister.

FLORIDO: Sri Lanka had been an financial success story till just some years in the past. Walk us by way of what occurred. When did the financial scenario actually begin to decline?

MOHAN: The tourism was booming. Then the pandemic got here in. It was a really dangerous scenario and really unlucky that Sri Lanka needed to face the pandemic simply whereas we have been reviving tourism and the financial system. And with the debt disaster that was already there, we did not have single greenback left within the nation. So that is the state of affairs that occurred nearly three months in the past, when there was no greenback within the nation for items for Sri Lanka as a result of we did not have greenback to pay.

FLORIDO: So how do you suppose Sri Lanka can begin to get better from all this?

MOHAN: This nation is penniless. There isn’t any cash on the treasury. There isn’t any cash to purchase meals. There isn’t any cash to purchase gas. And persons are ravenous. Even in my home, we do not have milk, and we’re ingesting simply black tea lately. So everyone is alarmed and agitated and livid. And that is why the protest is continuous – as a result of we’ve not discovered an answer.

Only resolution is that we’re getting some loans that has been awarded by the Indian authorities. And on the identical time, the federal government has approached the International Monetary Fund, and there, we’re speculating that we are going to get about 4 billion rupees. And all what we’re doing proper now’s we’re consuming from the cash that’s lent to us. There is nothing apart from that. This prime minister who has been appointed yesterday has to carry out miracle to revive the financial system.

FLORIDO: I’ve been talking with journalist Sulochana Ramiah Mohan. She’s a journalist in Sri Lanka. Thanks for talking with us, and thanks for protecting this story.

MOHAN: Thank you, Adrian.

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