Responding to mob violence against peaceful demonstrators in Colombo, western diplomats have issued stern condemnations and stressed the need to “hold the perpetrators of violence to account”.
The statement comes as military troops have taken to the streets and have used tear gas and water cannons.
US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie Chung tweeted:
We condemn the violence against peaceful protestors today, and call on the government to conduct a full investigation, including the arrest & prosecution of anyone who incited violence. Our sympathies are with those injured today and we urge calm and restraint across the island.
— Ambassador Julie Chung (@USAmbSL) May 9, 2022
The US State Department's account for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs stated:
Closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka. We are deeply concerned by the violence against peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders, and are urging all Sri Lankans to focus on finding and enabling long-term solutions to the country’s economic and political challenges.
— State_SCA (@State_SCA) May 9, 2022
Rita French, British Ambassador for Human Rights & Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN tweeted:
Devestating to see the violence in Sri Lanka after weeks of peaceful protests. It is crucial that human rights are respected and that democracy is upheld. https://t.co/VIk7fj5yYy
— Rita French (@RitaFrenchFCDO) May 9, 2022
Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Sarah Hulton stated:
Strongly condemn the violence against peaceful protestors today. The authorities have a responsibility to safeguard citizens’ rights to protest peacefully and to hold the perpetrators of violence to account.
— Sarah Hulton OBE (@SarahHultonFCDO) May 9, 2022
Britain's Minister for South Asia, North Africa, the United Nations and the Commonwealth at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Lord Tariq Ahmad tweeted:
Violence against peaceful protestors in Sri Lanka is unacceptable. Those responsible for attacks should be held to account. Fundamental rights including the right to peaceful protest, must be protected as part of a democratic resolution to current economic & political challenges.
— Lord (Tariq)Ahmad of Wimbledon (@tariqahmadbt) May 9, 2022
Germany’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives commented:
Current developments hurt my heart. What used to be an example of a well-functioning democracy – people peacefully exercising their right to free speech - has turned into tense confrontation. I call on all sides for calm and restraint. Violence is no solution, to neither side!
— Ambassador Holger Seubert (@GermanAmbColo) May 9, 2022
David Holly, Australia's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and the Maldives encouraged "restraint and calm" amidst the violence boiling across the capital.
We condemn the violence against peaceful protesters. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are pillars of any democratic society when they remain peaceful. We encourage restraint and calm.
— Australia in Sri Lanka and Maldives (@AusHCSriLanka) May 9, 2022