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Sri Lankan court imposes travel ban on protesting priest

Father Amila Jeewantha Pieris has been actively involved in the 'GotaGoGama' protests

Sri Lankan court imposes travel ban on protesting priest

Sri Lankan police use tear gas to disperse students during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country's crippling economic crisis in Colombo on May 21. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 24, 2022 09:34 AM GMT

Updated: May 24, 2022 09:40 AM GMT

A Sri Lankan court has ordered a travel ban on a Catholic priest for being part of the "GotaGoGama" protests demanding President Gotabaya Rajpaksha’s resignation over the nation’s worsening economic situation.

Officials from the Criminal Investigation Department informed Father Amila Jeewantha Pieris about the travel ban on May 23.

The activist priest has been involved with the month-long protests in the open space opposite the presidential secretariat in Colombo.

“The government is sending another message that they will make the victims more vulnerable,” said Father Pieris while asserting that the struggle cannot be stopped by such intimidation.

He said the protests will end only when the president and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe resign.

The court order was reportedly passed to allow further investigations into the complaint lodged by Father Pieris and others regarding attacks by pro-government supporters on peaceful protesters at the Galle Face on May 9.

“The successor president and the new prime minister should not be part of the Rajapaksa family regime. They should also not be accused of financial corruption or crime”

About 150 protesters were wounded as mobs also set fire to properties of Rajapaksa loyalists across the country. Six people including a parliamentarian were reported dead in the violence that ensued.

Nuwani Fernando, who assists protesters at the site, said the presence of the priest had strengthened the peaceful protests.

“The priest repeatedly says that we must win our demands through non-violence,” Fernando said.

Anti-government protests erupted in the island nation in early March as the worst economic crisis in decades unfolded. Protesters accused the government of mismanaging the economy and creating a foreign exchange crisis that led to shortages of essentials.

Protesters have set up temporary camps with food, water and toilet facilities besides a makeshift medical facility in the open space opposite the presidential secretariat.

Many Christian priests and nuns have joined the young protesters in Colombo and elsewhere.

The peaceful protesters, including students, lawyers, journalists, artists, public servants, civil society activists and religious leaders, have been demanding that the Rajapaksa regime must go.

“The successor president and the new prime minister should not be part of the Rajapaksa family regime. They should also not be accused of financial corruption or crime,” one protester said.

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