ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Aragalaya (Struggle) protestors have withdrawn four writ petitions filed at the Court of Appeal regarding a court order sought by the Fort Police.
Protesters that occupied Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green have decided to vacate the protest site, which they had been occupying since April. Fort police had previously ordered that the site be vacated by August 05, but the attorney general pledged that the unauthorised structures there would not be removed until Wednesday August 10.
An activist told EconmyNext that they would be leaving the Gota Go Gama site taking their tents and other temporary shelters with them, but some structures will remain to mark the enormity of the event and the history that was changed.
The government of President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been accused of a concentrated crackdown on the Aragalaya, but the authorities maintain that any arrests made are legal and against those who broke the law.
Wednesday marked 124 days since the start of the movement and on Tuesday mass protests were planned after Deputy Leader of main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said in parliament on July 27: “The people must forget the misconceptions within themselves and unite themselves to the final fight against corrupt politicians and politics.”
However, the August 09 protest at GotaGoGama had a markedly low turnout. One protestor said: “Earlier the people were with us but after they got gas and after the QR code system was implemented, they forgot about corruption and stolen lands and money. That is why we have no crowd.”
Analysts say that Tuesday’s protest didn’t draw the crowds anticipated by the organisers due to a combination of reasons: protest fatigue, a genuine desire to give President Wickremesinghe a chance, a semblance of normality following what appears to be an end to cooking gas queues and an easing of the fuel crisis, as well as a climate of fear brought about by the alleged crackdown.
Lasantha Manoj, a lawyer associated with the Aragalaya said that just because the protestors are dispersing and vacating the protest site, it doesn’t mean that the struggle is over.
“We’ve been laying low for a bit because our lives are at stake for fighting for the nation. Many have told us to accept the victory that ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa left and move on,” said another prominent protestor.
Former President Rajapaksa, it was reported on Wednesday, is expected to fly to Thailand from Singapore, where he fled to, on July 09, after protestors stormed his official residence and office complex. (Colombo/Aug10/2022)