Sri Lanka -Sri Lanka’s embattled leader faces biggest street protest

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Location: Colombo- Sri Lanka

Language: English & Sinhala

Duration: 00:05:40

Source: A24   

Restrictions: A24 Subscribers

Dateline: 11-04-2022

Storyline:

Sri Lankan protesters occupied the entrance to the president’s office for a fourth day, demanding Gotabaya Rajapaksa resign over the debt-ridden country’s worst economic crisis in memory. Hundreds of demonstrators weathered heavy rain with raincoats and umbrellas and chanted anti-government slogans. Some called for the entire Parliament to disband to make way for a younger leadership.

The Indian Ocean island nation is on the brink of bankruptcy, saddled with $25 billion foreign debt — nearly $7 billion of which is due this year alone — and dwindling foreign reserves. Talks with the International Monetary Fund are expected later this month, and the government had turned to China and India for emergency loans to buy food and fuel. For months, Sri Lankans have stood in long lines to buy fuel, cooking gas, food and medicines, most of which come from abroad and are paid for in hard currency. The fuel shortage has caused rolling power cuts lasting several hours a day. Much of the anger expressed by weeks of growing protests has been directed at the Rajapaksa family, which been in power for most of the past two decades.

Critics accuse the Rajapaksa brothers of borrowing heavily to finance projects that earn no money, such as a port facility built with Chinese loans.

Shots list:

– Soundbite (Tinaz Amit – a PR Professional taking part at the protest):

“We are at the Galle Face Green right now in Colombo Sri Lanka, and there is a massive crowd. And hopefully there will be more people coming in the evening as well. Why we are here is because Sri Lanka is right now at a huge economic crisis, we don’t have enough reserves, we don’t have enough foreign reserves, our economy is collapsing, most of our factories are shutting down, people don’t have electricity and people don’t have fuel. It’s effecting each and every person in Sri Lanka. No matter where there are in what level they are. You see people have been coming together for days now. Since Saturday we have been coming together at Galle Face Green everybody in one voice. What we are asking is for President Gotabaya Rajapakse to step down from his Presidency. And also for the government to make some urgent steps so that country will survive. But we are here altogether, you see that there is a lot of unity. There is no political party who’s driving us, it’s all the people voluntarily coming, there are coming with their families and their friends. And there are people coming with food to donate with medicine and everything. So, Sri Lankans have come together with one voice to ask for a solution from our leaders.”

– Soundbite (a young Protestor who is by a Professional actively taken part in the protest):

“We are participating in this struggle on behalf of all our great Sri Lankans. Because we have a job, we get paid. But the people with the real problem have not come to this place. Of course they are in the gas queues. They are still in the oil queues. They are still queuing up and dying. But we have come here to give them the maximum support we can as this is their struggle. In another month, two or three we can feel this to the fullest. We have money but we can’t buy oil or gas. We need these rulers to fix it for us. If the rulers do not help us or our children to develop this country, who else will help us? All these people are gathered for the benefit of the people of this country. We have to rebuild this country. We have to rebuild this country by voting for the right person, the right person, the right person with the right vision.”

– Soundbite (a young Protestor who is by a Professional actively taken part in the protest):

“The current wave in Sri Lanka is one of social media activists, university students, without any political affiliation, who are currently carrying out this massive ‘Gota Go Home’ campaign together. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and burghers are waging this struggle together without any discrimination. Our only objective is to overthrow this Rajapaksa family. I say very responsibly that there is no other business here.”

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