(Reuters) – Sri Lankan security forces raided an anti-government protest site in the hours before dawn on Friday, arresting nine people and sparking reactions from opposition politicians, lawyers and foreign diplomats.
SAJITH PREMADASA, OPPOSITION LEADER, ON TWITTER:
“A cowardly assault against PEACEFUL protesters, who agreed to vacate the sites today; A useless display of ego and brute force putting innocent lives at risk & endangers Sri Lanka’s international image, at a critical juncture.”
BAR ASSOCIATION OF SRI LANKA:
“The use of the armed forces to suppress civilian protests on the very first day in office of the new president is despicable and will have serious consequences on our country’s social, economic and political stability.”
EUROPEAN UNION IN SRI LANKA, ON TWITTER:
“Freedom of expression proved essential to Sri Lanka’s current transition. Hard to see how restricting it severely can help in finding solutions to the current political and economic crises.”
JULIE CHUNG, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SRI LANKA, ON TWITTER:
“Deeply concerned about actions taken against protestors at Galle Face in the middle of the night. We urge restraint by authorities and immediate access to medical attention for those injured.”
SARAH HULTON, BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER TO SRI LANKA, TWITTER:
“Very concerned about reports from the Galle Face protest site. We have made clear the importance of the right to peaceful protest.”
MEENAKSHI GANGULY, SOUTH ASIA DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH:
“President Ranil Wickremesinghe has been telling donors and friends that he is committed to resolving the economic crisis, and yet among his first acts was to deploy a midnight security forces raid to disperse the peaceful protesters.
“The international community needs to act now, send a strong message that the global efforts are directed to support the people of Sri Lanka, and not to prop up abusive political leaders who undermine fundamental freedoms.”
(Reporting by Uditha Jayasinghe and Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Clarence Fernandez)