Amnesty International has called on Sri Lankan authorities to "not use unnecessary or excessive force to disperse protesters" after thousands of protesters tried to storm the President's residence last night.
Frustrated by routine power outages and shortages of essential items due to the island's worsening economic crisis, protesters flocked to the President's home in Mirihana.
Responding to reports of excessive force by the state's security forces, Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:
“Sri Lankan authorities must refrain from arresting people for exercising their right to peaceful protest and follow due process safeguards such as prompt access to legal counsel. We are very concerned by the human rights violations currently taking place in Sri Lanka as the authorities are using unlawful force and restrictions on movement in an attempt to quell dissent."
As the number of protestors began to increase, the notorious Special Task Force (STF) was deployed alongside increased police personnel. The STF were sent in with their batons drawn to disperse the thousands of protestors. Alongside this escalation of force by the Sri Lankan state, tear gas and water cannons were used against the crowd without warning. The state forces had initially thought they had dispersed the crowd but angered by the escalation of violence, protestors began to retaliate by throwing rocks at police vans.
As many as 45 people were arrested by the Sri Lankan security forces last night while at least 7 Sinhala journalists were beaten by Sri Lankan security officers during the protest near the President’s residence yesterday.