APAY in solidarity with victims in Sri Lankan Crisis

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Last Updated (Monday, 16 May 2022 16:43)

16th May 2022

The crisis in Sri Lanka, which has seen protests that were mostly peaceful on the streets of Colombo for over a month, has now descended into deadly violence after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced his resignation. The defense ministry has ordered troops to shoot on sight after it granted its military and police emergency powers to arrest people without warrants after government and public properties were burned and eight people died in the violence. There is now a serious risk of militarization and the weakening of institutional checks and balances in Sri Lanka. It is impossible to monitor if human rights are not abused in a situation where there is a state of emergency, curfew and social media blackout.

The problem:
Years of corruption and mismanagement by the government controlled by the Rajapakse family has contributed to the country’s worst economic crisis since the country gained independence in 1948. Unsustainable financial policies and economic programs eroded the foreign exchange reserves and left the country unable to service its debts and pay for import of fuel, medicine and other essential goods.

Impact on the people:
Frequent power cuts, inflation and devaluation of the SL Rupee have made life unbearable. Shortages of fuel, medicines, food and other essential goods brought thousands onto the streets. Sri Lanka is in negotiations with the IMF to restructure and repay its massive debt. The IMF structural adjustment program will include the familiar privatization, cutbacks of social safety nets and alignment of local economic policy with the economically powerful countries, to the further detriment of local working people’s standard of living and inevitably leading to more wealth disparity and repeat debt crises.

Demands of the people:
The people of Sri Lanka are demanding government action and accountability and hopes for more systematic changes despite the resignation of the Prime Minister.

The APAY stands in solidarity with the hopes of YMCA Sri Lanka and the people of Sri Lanka.
The APAY is deeply concerned by the President’s decision to declare a State of Emergency under section 2 of the Public Security Ordinance (PSO). This measure is counterproductive at a time when Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented political and economic crisis, and when the priority of the government must be to ensure stability and address the economic hardships and the food insecurity experienced by a significant portion of the population. We appeal that the President must immediately revoke the proclamation declaring a State of Emergency and take all steps to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens.