In Sri Lanka, churches join the protest movement

The popular anger that is shaking Sri Lanka is overflowing on all sides. Informed by social networks, thousands of demonstrators converged all day, Saturday April 9, towards Galle Face, in Colombo. This upscale district of the capital, where modern buildings and luxury hotels grow along the sea, not far from the presidential palace, is the symbol of the island’s dependence on China and its huge debt. The debt amounts to 51 billion dollars (46.9 million euros), for this country of 22 million inhabitants.

Armed with rudimentary equipment, national flags, placards cut from cardboard boxes or simple sheets of paper, the protesters arrived early in the morning to brandish and chant hostile slogans along the road. to the President of the Republic, whose resignation they are demanding. On the way, the drivers responded with a chorus of horns. « Gota go home », “Sri Lanka needs responsible leaders”, “the country is not your private property”, “the corrupt in prison” : the hostility of the demonstrators, nourished by months of deprivation, targets Gotabaya Rajapaksa, elected in 2019 after deadly attacks perpetrated against churches and hotels and attributed to the terrorist group Islamic State.

Also read the archive (2019): Article reserved for our subscribers In Sri Lanka, family power

Sri Lankans, traumatized, had placed their fate in the hands of this man renowned for his ruthless operations against the Tigers, during the civil war which, for twenty-six years, pitted the Sinhalese majority, mainly Buddhist, against the separatist organization the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), mainly Hindu.

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All strata of society

He presented himself as the man capable of meeting the security and economic challenges facing the country. He installed a veritable family clan at the top of the state, notably his brother Mahinda, appointed prime minister. “I voted for him in 2019, testifies a young thirty-year-old civil servant. I regret it very much, the country is suffering because of its inability and its mistakes. »

At the end of the day, they were thousands to fill the road and the esplanade, along the sea. The massive protest movement now reaches all strata of society, from traders to tuk-tuk drivers, from students to artists, workers and employers, penalized for months by an economic and financial crisis unprecedented in its magnitude. The island is short of everything, fuel, medicine, electricity. The inhabitants are getting poorer every day, crushed by galloping inflation.

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