06/23/2022 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – In the midst of Sri Lanka’s present economic crisis, authorities in the country have continued to crack down on the protestors demanding change. Most recently, on June 22, police detained seven prominent youth activists, one of whom is also a Buddhist monk. They are accused of damaging public property and illegal assembly during a protest in front of police headquarters in the capital on June 9. A Sri Lankan rights activist, Surin Randil, said, “People have taken to the streets to demand solutions to the country’s economic problems, but instead, the government misuses the police to oppress the people.”
Economic mismanagement and collapse lie at the heart of unrest in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan rupee has lost roughly 82% of its value in the last year, foreign currency reserves are depleted, and the country is in default. These underlying problems have resulted in widespread power outages as well as shortages of food, fuel, and other critical goods. The Sri Lankan government now seeks aid from India, China, and the International Monetary Fund. Despite popular condemnation and demands from activists for his resignation, the Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has refused to step down.
Christians among the repressed activists have taken various approaches to push forward for change and relief. Catholic bishops in Sri Lanka coordinated with Buddhist and other religious leaders to recommend that the government provide a relief package for the poor in order to address immediate concerns over their survival. Alternatively, some Christians have taken it upon themselves to make a positive impact where the government has failed. A Christian woman in Sri Lanka’s capital, for example, has decided to personally provide financial assistance to five families in need. She is a 71-year-old retired teacher, and she has chosen to donate a portion of her pension to these families. As the government of Sri Lanka continues to fail its people, we pray that the nation’s Christians will remain strong, standing in the gap wherever possible to help the needy and inspire change.
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