The Sri Lankan authorities have fiercely clamped down on protests and demonized protesters during a period of economic crisis and hardship in the country.
The government responded to largely peaceful protests with excessive and unnecessary force and emergency laws giving sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces, in an effort to curb further demonstrations. Since widespread protests began in March 2022, the police and armed forces have routinely misused tear gas and water cannons against largely peaceful protesters. On two occasions, security forces fired live ammunition at protesters, killing at least one person on April 19.
Since President Ranil Wickremesinghe came into power on July 21, 2022, over 140 protesters and protest organizers have been arrested, routinely flouting due process, creating chilling effect on the protest movement. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also publicly labelled protesters as “terrorists” and “fascists”, in a bid to demonize protesters. The government has used the draconian anti-terror law Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which in the past has been used to target, and harass minorities, activists, journalists and critical voices, and to detain protesters.
Sign our petition calling on President Ranil Wickremesinghe to immediately stop the repression, intimidation and reprisals against peaceful protesters.