07/22/2022, 10.30
SRI LANKA
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Wickremesinghe's iron fist: police evict Colombo protesters

by Melani Manel Perera

Overnight raid with charges and 9 arrests at the garrison in front of the presidential secretariat occupied for more than 100 days. The show of force despite the fact that the activists - also opposed to the election of the new head of state - had already announced their intention to leave. Those arrested include protest leader and lawyer Nuwan Bogape.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Just hours before the inauguration of the new President Ranil Wickremesinghe the special police task force and army troops raided the "Gate Zero" site near the occupied Presidential Secretariat that for more than 100 days in Colombo was the heart of the GotaGoGama protest that led to the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Protesters were violently driven away and some tents were destroyed.

The raid took place around 1am and took place despite the fact that yesterday the protesters - although opposed to the election of Wickremesinghe - had announced their intention to withdraw from the site. They had also called a press conference for 2pm today.

Most of the tents around the Presidential Secretariat have been demolished; a few still remain near the Shangri-La, where the protest is continuing this morning. Many activists and journalists who recorded the violence live were attacked. Nine people were arrested, including lawyer Nuwan Bopage, one of the main activists who have animated the protests in recent months.

The Sri Lankan police said in a statement that the Presidential Secretariat was 'rescued' in a joint operation by the security forces. Large numbers of soldiers along with police were deployed and all roads to the Galle Face - the large coastal park in Colombo where protesters often gathered - were closed off with heavy barricades, under which no one could enter or leave.

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