Colombo: Less than 24 hours after Ranil Wickremasinghe took oath as President of Sri Lanka, visuals of the island nation’s army raiding a protest site at Galle Face near the Presidential Secretariat and of protesters being attacked have emerged. The raid happened in the early hours of Friday, around 1am.
Chāmara Jayasinghe, a member of #Negombo Bar Association, brutally attacked by #SriLanka Air Force troopers during the early hours of Friday (22) as he was trying to meet protesters who are encircled by military, following a pre-dawn raid on Galle Face protest site. @saliyapieris pic.twitter.com/IQyoa78ot3
— JDS (@JDSLanka) July 21, 2022
The raid at the anti-government protest site occurred a few hours after the protest movement had announced on 21 July night that it would be evacuating the Presidential Secretariat at 2pm today 22 July.
The incident has received international condemnation — from Amnesty International South Asia, the British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, and US ambassador to Sri Lanka.
A live video feed of the main protest site now shows the road to the Presidential Secretariat barricaded.
A post on the Facebook page ‘Aragalaya FM’ says, “22nd July, soon after 1.00 a.m. police/military forces began swarming the areas and blocked all entrances to GGG [Gota Go Gama] closing in roads with barricades and not allowing anyone, not even media to enter.
Aragalaya is Sinhalaese for ‘struggle’ and has become synonymous with the anti-government protests that have rocked Sri Lanka over the past months.
“The forces attacked and destroyed the Hearing impaired tent”, other tents, “and IT center and all other tents surrounding the Presidential Secretariat and dumped them into the lake”, which is nearby, the Facebook page says.
According to the Aragalaya FM post, eight protesters were allegedly “taken away” while three journalists were “attacked”.
Another post on Aragalaya FM had said that two other journalists were also “attacked”.
In a report published by the BBC, the new media organisation said that, “A BBC video journalist was beaten by the army and one soldier snatched his phone and deleted videos”.
(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)
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