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Mass protests against plan to lease Hambantota port to Chinese company

Joint opposition party supporters, locals and Buddhist monks marched in Amabalantota on Saturday protesting against the government's deal to lease land in an industrial zone in Hambantota port to a Chinese company. 

Government supporters attacked protesters with clubs, the AP reported. Protesters retaliated by throwing rocks. As the violence escalated, Sri Lankan police used water cannons to break up the protest. 

One Buddhist monk from the organisation, Monks' Organisation to Protect National Assets told AP "the clergy following an ancient tradition would issue a decree to the government to stop the leasing."

"It's a way of conveying the message that the monks are not for it," he was quoted as saying. "Ninety-nine years means at least two generations. When they [Chinese] take root here, what's the guarantee that we will have it back? There is a major threat of cultural erosion and demographic change."

The protest took place as the prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe held an opening ceremony for the industrial zone. 

The JVP held similar march in Friday, calling on the government to cancel the agreement.