Rajapaksas the Most Cowardly Bunch: Sri Lanka Youth Activists on Economic Crisis

Three youth activists from Sri Lanka open up to The Quint about their collective ordeal and the possible way ahead.

2 min read
Edited By :Saundarya Talwar

(This story was originally published on 17 May 2022 and is being republished from The Quint's archives in light of fresh unrest being reported from the country with several MPs demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation and huge protests at his residence.)


Video Editor: Harpal Rawat

In Sri Lanka, amid a catastrophic economic crisis, violent clashes have taken place in the past few days between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Rajapaksas.

The Quint spoke to three youth activists to find out what they think about the ongoing situation in their country.


Ranil Wickremesinghe as the New PM 

When asked about whether the appointment of Wickremesinghe as the successor of the highly unpopular Mahinda Rajapaksa gives them any hope, Sareka, 19, tells The Quint, "He's been prime minister five times, we know for a fact that there is no way that the Rajapaksa are going to be held accountable."

"Ranil being appointed as the prime minister is not what the people want," says Anjalee, 22, adding that "He does not have a majority in parliament."

Mithsandi, a 21-year-old activist, says that Wickremesinghe is somebody who "has a history of similar types of crimes (as the Rajapaksas)," and therefore, there "really is no point."


On the Deprivation of Civil Liberties

"The loss of civil liberties is nothing new and right now we are seeing that the situation is coming towards the more privileged people in Colombo as well," Mithsandi asserts, when asked whether the Rajapaksa government is snatching away the civil liberties of the Sri Lankan people.

Talking about the people who attacked peaceful protesters a few days ago, Anjalee claims that "we have the faces of the attackers, we have their Facebook profiles, their numbers, their ID card numbers, but there is no action taken against them!"

"The Rajapaksas have ruled through fear," Sareka adds. "They come into power by exploiting racial tensions."


On What Steps the New Government Should Take

"We'd like to see accountability," says Sareka, while Anjalee emphasises that the new government has to "get our economy back on track."

"The best thing we can do if we are going to be stuck with him (Wickremesinghe) is to listen to other people who are well-versed in economics," Mithsandi says.


A Message for the Rajapaksas

"I'd say that they are the most cowardly bunch of people that have ever been on the face of this earth," Sareka says with a sad smile.

"The youth themselves have risen in a way peacefully like they have never before," she adds.

"Without getting more blood on their hands, they really need to step down," Anjalee concludes.

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Topics:  Sri Lanka Crisis 

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