Asia

In the midst of protests, Sri Lanka imposes a curfew and censors social media.

Following protests over food and fuel shortages, Sri Lanka’s government has barred access to social media and enforced a 36-hour curfew.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued an order barring anyone from appearing on any public road, park, railroad, or beach without written authorization from the authorities.

On Saturday, the curfew went into effect at dusk.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are among the social media sites that have been blocked.

WhatsApp is also unavailable, with users receiving a message from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission stating that this was “as directed by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.”

After mobs were accused of torching vehicles near the president’s private residence on Thursday, the tough restrictions are intended at avoiding new protests.

Since then, the military has been deployed, and they now have the authority to arrest people without a warrant.

The island nation is experiencing a severe economic downturn. A paucity of foreign currency, which is used to pay for fuel imports, contributes to the problem.

Public outrage has reached new heights as a result of power outages lasting half a day or longer, as well as a dearth of fuel, vital food, and medicines.

The protest outside President Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence began peacefully on Thursday, but participants said it quickly devolved after police used tear gas, water cannons, and assaulted those in attendance.

Protesters pelted police officers with stones in retaliation.

According to an official cited by the Reuters news agency, at least two dozen police officers were injured during the fights.

On Friday, 53 demonstrators were jailed, and five news photographers were imprisoned and abused at a police station, according to local media. The government has stated that it will look into the latter claim.

Protests continued despite the crackdown and extended to other parts of the country.

Demonstrators held signs asking for the president’s resignation in the capital. Mr Rajapaksa, who swept into office with a majority vote in 2019, vowing stability and a “strong hand” to lead the country, has seen his popularity plummet as a result of the protests.

Rajini Vaidyanathan, South Asia Correspondent in Colombo, provides an analysis.
Sri Lankans awoke this morning to learn that their social media accounts had been shut by the government, raising fears that their basic liberties are being curtailed.

Burnt-out vehicles outside the Sri Lankan president's private residence in Colombo on Friday

The military and police are patrolling the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

Sunday was supposed to be a day of mass protest against rising fuel and food shortages, but with a curfew in effect and a state of emergency declared, many people are staying at home.

Others refuse to be hushed — authorities say they detained 664 individuals for breaking the curfew in the Western province, which includes the capital Colombo, between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.

After violent protests outside the President’s mansion on Thursday, the government claims these steps are necessary to keep calm. Many of the people we’ve spoken to – from all walks of life – blame the authorities for the crisis’ mismanagement. In this island nation, dissatisfaction is on the rise.

“Enough is enough,” said Roshinta, a student, as she brandished a banner in the city center before the curfew went into effect. “We are enraged because millions of people are suffering.”

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