04/01/2022, 13.06
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Violence and arrests during protest at Rajapaksa residence in Colombo

by Melani Manel Perera

Vehicles set on fire and stone throwing were met by tear gas and police arrests. A crowd protested at the soaring prices of essential goods and power cuts. “The country is fast approaching the precipice of a failed state that will in its wake inflict irreversible injuries on the people,” the country’s Catholic bishops warn

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Protests against the rising cost of basic necessities and power cuts lasting up to 13 hours have resulted in an attack last night against the residence of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksha in Mirihana, Colombo.

Organised extremist groups joined previously peaceful protests burning cars and damaging property. For their part, police attacked demonstrators and made several arrests.

A number of vehicles and a bus placed as a barrier at the entrance to the president’s house were set on fire.

Using tear gas and water cannons, police tried to disperse protesters, who threw stones and other objects. About 20 agents were injured.

To stop the violence, the police imposed a curfew in several districts of Colombo, which was lifted only this morning.

Protest organisers reject the accusation by the Sri Lankan president’s office of provoking the violence. Instead, they blame agents provocateurs for the devastation and Rajapaksa who has done nothing to alleviate the suffering of the people during this economic crisis.

Police arrested 54 people in connection with the riots. Several lawyers are assisting those arrested.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) has also expressed its concern at the country’s tragic situation.

The CBCSL recently issued a statement, noting that, “All successive governments to date are responsible in varying degrees for the present state of affairs.”

The bishops go on to say that, “the present government as well as those in the opposition … must adopt a conciliatory not a confrontational approach” and avoid “play[ing] the blame game.”

“The country is fast approaching the precipice of a failed state that will in its wake inflict irreversible injuries on the people,” the bishops warned.

The prelates also urged the faithful and Church institutions to help the most vulnerable and affected groups during the economic crisis.

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