Colombo, Sri Lanka:
Protests staged by the public were reported from small streets, apartment complexes, and multiple areas around the country amid the crackdown and nationwide curfew.
The opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) also staged a protest in Colombo today against the Government with slogans of “Go Gotabaya Go”, referring to the current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka on Sunday arrested over 600 protestors violating the curfew in Western Province imposed from 6 pm from Saturday to 6 am on Monday.
The police said that 664 individuals were arrested in the Western Province between 10.00 pm last night and 6.00 am today, reported Colombo Gazette.
During the protests, an allegedly intoxicated 53-year-old male committed suicide in front of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s house in Mirihana, local police informed.
Ahead of the planned protest for Sunday, the island nation had imposed a nationwide curfew starting at 6 pm in the evening on Saturday till morning 6 am on Monday (April 4) following unrest in the country with protests outside the residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid the ongoing economic crisis in the Island country.
The island nation of 22 million people is having a hard time dealing with blackouts for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports.
The island-wide curfew was declared ahead of an ‘Arab Spring” style protest, reported Colombo Gazette.
To counter the protests, the Sri Lankan government also imposed a nationwide social media blackout after midnight on Sunday, April 3, according to an internet observatory.
Some two dozen social media platforms were affected including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.
Responding to the ban on social media, Namal Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Cabinet Minister of Youth and Sports said that such bans are useless due to the availability of VPNs (Virtual Private Network).
“I will never condone the blocking of social media. The availability of VPN, just like I’m using now, makes such bans completely useless. I urge the authorities to think more progressively and reconsider this decision,” tweeted Namal Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka is presently facing a foreign exchange shortage which has led to a food, fuel, power, and gas shortage, and has sought the assistance of friendly countries for economic assistance.
Sri Lanka is witnessing long hours of daily power cuts. The country’s currency has also been devalued by almost SLR 90 against the US dollar since March 8.