Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Sri Lanka: Protesters Storm Presidential Palace, Forcing the President and Prime Minister to Resign

Amid fuel shortages, rising inflation, militarization, and further austerity measures, new protests broke out Saturday in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo. The working class should not pay a single cent for the mounting social and economic crises.

Facebook Twitter Share
Demonstrators celebrate after entering into the Presidential Secretariat, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 2022
Image: Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

Amid fuel shortages, rising inflation, militarization of cities, and proposals of further austerity measures to guarantee a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), new protests broke out Saturday in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.

Tens of thousands of protesters stormed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office and residence. The protesters broke the security perimeter surrounding Rajapaksa’s official residence while the police used tear gas to prevent entry. Rajapaksa was said to have left earlier on a naval ship. 

In response to this escalation, Rajapaksa offered his resignation, as did the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The growing protests in the country are taking place against the backdrop of one of the worst economic crises in Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948, resulting from the depletion of foreign currency in international reserves and heavy indebtedness. An import-dependent country that relies heavily on tourism for its economy, Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves are now depleted and the country has declared bankruptcy, leaving it unable to purchase essential commodities from the global market. Since earlier this year, the country has severely restricted imports on what it deems “non-essential,” including milk products like butter, cheese, yogurt, fish, and fruits. Meanwhile, the country also has a massive foreign debt burden to repay.

Tension and discontent increased on the island at the end of March, when the authorities imposed power cuts of over 13 hours in the face of a fuel crisis, which led the population to take to the streets to demand the resignation of the Sri Lankan Executive.

Since then, hundreds of demonstrators have settled in the vicinity of the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. Protests around the island nation have become commonplace and increasingly repressed, as the police and state forces have attempted to impose a crippling curfew with all its might. 

Meanwhile, the government has been trying to reach a bailout agreement with the IMF behind the backs of the working class. This agreement would include drastic and far-reaching structural reforms, like austerity in state expenditures, the elimination of the duopoly in the energy sector, the end of import restrictions, the increase of indirect taxes and the privatization or sale of state enterprises. In anticipation of the bailout, the Rajapaksa government further devalued the currency, leading to higher inflation.

The mobilizations are part of a deepening social and economic crisis across the globe. Supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine have increased inflation and food shortages, which have, in turn, provoked strikes in Europe and the United States, as well as rebellions in countries like Ecuador and Iran. Ukraine and Russia are important geopolitical allies for Sri Lanka, especially for tea exports and fuel imports.

Amid the crisis, Sri Lanka’s opposition parties have joined the calls and led the charge for the current government to resign. In reality, they pose no real solution for the working people of the country. The debate among the political caste over the question of the foreign debt is limited to whether to refinance or completely restructure the whole debt. Both these solutions only represent more misery for Sri Lankans, especially because they both mean more austerity measures that will further squeeze the working class. 

It is increasingly important for Sri Lanka’s foreign debt — and the debt of all countries affected by the IMF’s imperialist exploitation and extortion — to be canceled. To carve a real solution out of this crisis, it is urgent to break the agreement between the imperialist and national bourgeoisies. The working class should not pay a single cent for this crisis. 

Facebook Twitter Share

Luigi Morris

Luigi is a freelance photographer, socialist journalist and videographer. He is an activist for immigrants' rights.

Twitter Instagram

Sou Mi

Sou Mi is an activist based in New York City.

Asia-Pacific

Illustration of a bald eagle on the left and yellow dragon on the right, face-to-face, with the flags of the U.S., R.O.C., and P.R.C. in the background

China and the U.S.: War Games in a Tense World

The visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has led to a new escalation in tensions between the United States and China. Beijing responded by launching missiles right under Taiwan’s nose — war games on the knife-edge.

Esteban Mercatante

August 10, 2022
U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks at a podium with arms wide open as President of the Republic of China Tsai Ing-Wen looks on.

Pelosi in Taiwan: A Risky Provocation for Imperialism

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has made the bad Washington-Beijing relationship worse. What was her purpose?

André Barbieri

August 3, 2022

Tension in Taiwan and the Dispute over Global Hegemony

Without clear objectives, Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan seems more like a provocation than a strategic calculation. Her trip could trigger a major international crisis involving the United States and China, with the contest for world hegemony as a backdrop.

Claudia Cinatti

August 3, 2022

Drone Strike in Kabul Proves the U.S. Is Still Waging War on Afghanistan

Biden announced on August 1 that he approved the drone assassination of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a top-level al-Qaeda leader. This is an attack on Afghanistan’s sovereignty and continues U.S imperialism’s brutal attempt to dominate the country.

Sam Carliner

August 2, 2022

MOST RECENT

With Nationwide Rallies, UPS Teamsters Kick Off Their 2023 Contract Campaign

Last week, UPS Teamsters organized rallies of thousands of workers across the country to kick off their 2023 contract campaign. Left Voice joined in solidarity.

Luigi Morris

August 10, 2022

Cops Out of Martial Arts: You Can’t Make “More Humane” Agents of State Terror

Leandro Lo, a world champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, was recently shot and killed by an off-duty cop in Brazil. Martial arts coaches and practitioners often welcome cops into their spaces, saying they’re then less likely to use deadly force. Let’s be clear: cops have no place in martial arts schools

Mike Pappas

August 10, 2022
Several Fordham adjuncts standing with their fists in the air.

Fordham University Hates Adjuncts

Fordham University remains committed to paying adjunct faculty far less than a living wage, depriving them of health benefits, and discriminating against faculty in the Graduate School of Social Services.

Olivia Wood

August 8, 2022

Gaza and Al-Aqsa Under Attack in Latest Zionist Israeli Military Onslaught

Over the weekend, the Gaza Strip was attacked by Zionist Israeli military forces and Al-Aqsa Mosque was stormed by ultra-nationalists. We need international solidarity in the streets for Palestine, demanding that not a penny more of imperialist governments’ money go to Israel.

Emma Lee

August 8, 2022