The Black Cap Movement has called on the United Nations to directly intervene to protect basic human rights of Sri Lankans after scores of Rajapaksa loyalists launched attacks on peaceful protestors on Monday (09).
The movement, in a letter to UN Resident Coordinator Hanna Singer-Hamdy, alleged that the Rajapaksa family has used state sponsored violence as means of crushing public dissent during their grip on power for the past decades.
"The peaceful uprising and protest site set up by the apolitical citizens of Sri lanka in front of the Presidential Secretariat and the Official Prime Minister Residence demanding their resignation was the direct antithesis of the Rajapaksha ruling system of violence, adopting the principles of “Satyagraha” the peaceful non violent forms of protest promulgated by the great Mahatma Gandhi.
The protest prevailed as a symbol of hope to all Sri Lankans in their quest for democracy for more than 30 days in spite of multiple state sponsored actions to derail it.
However, the actions by the Prime Minister, directly instigating and overseeing a violent mob of thousands of his sycophants to grievously injure citizens and destroy the peaceful protest sites, is clearly a dark day in our History.
Madam Coordinator, such actions deserve the direct intervention and condemnation of the United Nations in the interests of Sri Lanka to protect its basic Human Rights," the letter said.
The Black Cap Movement also wrote to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and the Inspector General of Police calling on the latter to initiate an investigation and arrest the culprits.
Foreign envoys in Colombo on Monday reacted with shock and dismay as Sri Lanka was hit with chaos and disarray when violence between pro- and anti-government protesters left at least 130 people injured and one MP killed, prompting authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deploy army troops in the capital.
Reactions from the envoys began to pour in as the island nation was grappling with the worst economic crisis in the history of Sri Lanka since its Independence from Britain in 1948.
Calling on the Sri Lankan government to conduct a full investigation, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung, said the government must ensure the "arrest and prosecution of anyone who incited violence".
"We condemn the violence against peaceful protestors today, and call on the government to conduct a full investigation, including the arrest and prosecution of anyone who incited violence. Our sympathies are with those injured today and we urge calm and restraint across the island," Chung tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, 76, resigned hours after his supporters attacked anti-government protesters outside President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's office.
Tweeting about the deteriorating economic situation in Sri Lanka, the UK embassy in Sri Lanka asked its citizens to avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings.
The advisory said the UK's citizens in Sri Lanka should avoid all protests and follow the advice of local authorities.
Several incidents of violence have taken place in Sri Lanka on Monday, including in the Galle Face area where authorities used tear gas and water cannons, incidents near Beira Lake in Colombo, and in Kandy.
Sarah Hulton, the UK High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, strongly condemned the violence against peaceful protestors.
Urging the authorities to safeguard citizens' rights to protest peacefully, Hulton asked the government to "hold the perpetrators of violence to account". "Violence against peaceful protestors in Sri Lanka is unacceptable. Those responsible for attacks should be held to account," she tweeted.
She said that the fundamental rights, including the right to peaceful protest, must be protected as part of a democratic resolution to current economic and political challenges.
The European Union in Sri Lanka also called on the government to protect people and to "hold accountable those having instigated violence". The EU encouraged all parties to "act with restraint and refrain from violence for the country's interest".
French Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Lavertu Eric, said he was "deeply shocked" and disturbed by the shameful and cowardly attacks on peaceful protesters.
Urging the government to safeguard the rights of the people of Sri Lanka, the French ambassador tweeted that the political leaders should "ensure peace and justice". He said that he believed in the wisdom of the people to overcome this pathetic situation that has engulfed the country.
Similarly, Holger Seubert, the German Ambassador to Sri Lanka, called on all sides for calm and restraint.
The current "developments hurt my heart", Seubert said, adding that the country, which used to be an example of a well-functioning democracy where people peacefully exercised their right to free speech, had turned into a tense confrontation. "I call on all sides for calm and restraint. Violence is no solution, to neither side!" the ambassador tweeted.
Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9 seeking the resignation of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda as the country is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
The government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines, and electricity supply.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a special Cabinet meeting on Friday declared a state of emergency with effect from Friday midnight. This is the second time that an emergency was declared in Sri Lanka in just over a month as the island nation was in the grip of the worst economic crisis.
- With inputs from PTI