The scarcity of foreign exchange caused an economic crisis, along with rising inflation, shortages of fuel and essential goods, and prolonged power cuts.
🇱🇰#SriLanka: UN experts condemn the suppression of protests in the context of the country’s severe economic crisis.
“We urge Gvt to have an open and honest dialogue with peaceful protesters about reforms and political means to ease the impact of the economic crisis.”
– UN Special Procedures (@UN_SPExperts) April 8, 2022
It has exacerbated an already dire situation in terms of access to food and health, and has led thousands of Sri Lankans to take to the streets to protest – calling for political and economic reform.
In return, the Government imposed a nationwide curfew from April 2 to 4, arresting more than 600 people taking to the streets.
On April 2, the president made a nationwide public statement state of emergencywas later revoked, allowing him to override most laws while authorities blocked access to some social media platforms, later reinstated.
“Peaceful protests and voices of legitimate dissidents are not met with excessive and unnecessary use of force by the authorities, the “group of five UN experts” said in a statement.
Combined effects of external debt, corruption and COVID-19 The crisis crippled the country’s economy.
In an initially peaceful and spontaneous protest on March 31, hundreds of people gathered in front of the president’s residence, demanding his resignation over his handling of the crisis.
Security forces responded by firing tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, sparking clashes that left nearly 50 people injured, including several journalists, and several other arrests.
These measures appear to be aimed at discouraging or deterring peaceful protests amid the deepening economic crisis and lack of access to fuel, the experts said. electricity, medicine and essential food items”.
“We condemn the excessive use of tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters, as well as the recent blocking of social media platforms“, they added, urging the government to allow students, human rights defenders and others “to demonstrate peacefully … to share their political views and express their displeasure, both online and offline. ”
Call for open dialogue
Experts urge the authorities to engage in constructive and open dialogue with the people of Sri Lanka.
Using force against protesters would only jeopardize avenues for peaceful expression of grievances, instead risking an escalation of tensions, they said.
“We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to seek an open and genuine dialogue with peaceful protesters on political reform. and is meant to lessen the impact of the economic crisis”.