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07/23/2022 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – Government troops in Sri Lanka forcefully evicted protestors from a camp in the capital of Colombo on Friday morning. The protest camp, “Gate Zero,” had been established over 100 days ago and had served as the heart of a movement seeking accountability for the country’s devastating economic crisis. The protest movement resulted in the resignation of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The new president Ranil Wickremesinghe, the prime minister of the previous regime, unpopularly elected to the presidency by Parliament on Wednesday, presided over yesterday’s operation involving hundreds of soldiers, who expelled the protestors in a pre-dawn raid. The soldiers dismantled barricades and tents erected outside the Presidential Secretariat building. The troops, who were armed with riot gear and automatic weapons, also arrested nine protestors, two of whom were injured.

The raid against the anti-government protestors took place despite statements from organizers that the protestors intended to withdraw. Protest organizers also had called for a press conference this afternoon, a press conference preempted by the early Friday morning raid. Police released a statement on the raid, which asserted that security forces were wholly justified in their operations to clear protesters illegally occupying the presidential compound.

The actions of security forces under the new president have been widely condemned by observers and activists. The Sri Lankan opposition leader Sajith Premadasa asserted that the recent government raid was excessive use of force. Prominent Christian activist Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Columbo, said, “A transparent and independent investigation into the incident must be launched. In this regard, I will ask the UN Human Rights Council to intervene.” Amnesty International petitioned the Sri Lankan government to respect anti-government dissent. The organization also criticized the government for uses of force against journalists, including a BBC photographer who was assaulted by Sri Lankan troops and robbed of his footage. We pray that the Sri Lankan government would respect the civil rights of protestors and that Christian advocates would be empowered in their fight for justice and peace in their nation.

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