According to the media, Amnesty International urged the Sri Lankan government to drop charges against two protest leaders detained for more than three months following the anti-government demonstrations that engulfed the island nation earlier this year. According to the details, Wasantha Mudalige and Galwewa Siridhamma, both university student leaders, were arrested in August and have been detained for more than 90 days under the PTA.
Amnesty International also renewed its call for Sri Lanka to repeal the harsh, civil war-era Prevention of Terrorism Act under which the two protest leaders were held by the ruling elite.
Sri Lanka was hit by a horrific economic crisis in early 2022 when a tourism-based South Asian economy collapsed due to the unending and boundless effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, long power shortages, and a dearth of foreign reserves and fuel in the country. The freebies policies of the Rajapaksa family dried up the foreign reserves and the public took to the streets after the wheel of economy halted due to the closure of factories, and businesses, vehicular, and air traffic on the Island. The Sinhalese initiated the “Aragalaya Movement” agaisnt the government and all segments of society including students, labor unions, and political activists, joined hands to avert the growing darkness from their lives that was brought by the Rajapaksa regime.
Although the Sri Lankan government could not avert the economic crisis so far, however, it displayed unimaginable smartness in coining fake charges of treason and terrorism agaisnt the student leaders who mobilized the public and raised voices against the government’s corruption and failure to address the worsening economic and energy crises. International human rights groups and public leaders condemned the biased and illegal detention of Sri Lankan political activists and urged Colombo to release them without any delay. Interestingly, the sitting President Ranil Wickremesinghe is a close ally and former Finance Minister of the country having an equal share in sinking the Lankan economy. Hence, President Wickremesinghe perceives protests as a draconian dream for himself and his rule in the country and intends to keep the protestors’ leaders behind the bars as long as possible. Apparently, the revolutionaries have to pay price for their nation’s salvation.