Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew till Monday to quell unrest

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Apr 02, 2022, 06:17 PM IST

FILE PHOTO: Sri Lankan Special Task Force and Police officers stand guard at the top of the road to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence, after police officers and demonstrators clashed at a protest against him, as many parts of the crisis-hit country faced up to 13 hours without electricity due to a shortage of foreign currency to import fuel, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 1, 2022. Photograph:(Reuters)

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In the past, a state of emergency order allowed the military to arrest and detain suspects without warrants

Sri Lanka has imposed 36-hour nationwide curfew to quell the unrest in the country that has erupted in the wake of economic crisis.

"Under the powers given to the president, curfew has been imposed countrywide from 6 p.m. (1230 GMT) on Saturday to 6 a.m. (0030 GMT) on Monday," the government's information department said in a statement.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already invoked stringent laws to tackle the growing unrest. A state of emetgency has been declared.

In the past, a state of emergency order allowed the military to arrest and detain suspects without warrants.

The current restrictions were not immediately clear, said a rights' lawyer.

Watch | Sri Lanka's economic crisis explodes- public emergency declared


Bhavani Fonseka, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Colombo Centre for Policy Alternatives rights group said regulations defining the president's emergency powers have yet to be issued.

Shops opened and traffic was normal, while police remained stationed at some petrol stations.

The Indian Ocean island nation of 22 million people is grappling with rolling blackouts for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports.

Rajapaksa said the state of emergency was necessary to protect public order and maintain essential supplies and services.

The order has raised fears that the government could resort to a crackdown to quell protests.

"There has been a failure to understand the aspirations of the people and to empathize with the suffering of the people of the country," the lawyers, members of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, said in their appeal.

US Ambassador Julie Chung said, "Sri Lankans have a right to protest peacefully - essential for democratic expression.

"I am watching the situation closely, and hope the coming days bring restraint from all sides, as well as much needed economic stability and relief for those suffering," she tweeted

Angered by shortages of fuel and other essential items, hundreds of protesters clashed on Thursday with police and the military outside Rajapaksa's residence as they called for his ouster and torched several police and army vehicles.

Police arrested 53 people and imposed a curfew in and around Colombo on Friday to contain other sporadic protests.

(With inputs from agencies)