What is Going On in Sri Lanka?

 Some protesters near the capital in Sri Lanka during a Civil War.


Some protesters near the capital in Sri Lanka during a Civil War.

Imaan Moten, Photojournalist

Sri Lanka is an island country in South Asia that a prime minister and a president rule. In recent years since there was a  Civil War 13 years ago, Siri Lanka has been falling into economic despair. The country’s powerful Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has resigned and his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is seeking a way out of the chaos. The economic crisis has turned into deadly violence, which has killed eight people and wounded more than 200 so far (Aljazeera). Anti-government protesters, angry over power blackouts, shortages of essential goods, and rising prices, are demanding that the president also steps down. Still, the retired military officer has invoked emergency powers in an attempt to maintain control.

India, Sri Lanka’s northern neighbor, has extended billions of dollars in loans to help the country pay for vital supplies. Additionally, China which has recently invested heavily in infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka has interfered less publicly but said they supported efforts for the island nation to restructure its debt. 

A large amount of blame for these issues has been placed on the Rajapaksa brothers in power. Their economic “mismanagement” has weakened Sri Lanka’s public finances, leaving national expenses more than its income and the production of tradable goods and services at insufficient levels. The situation was further heightened by deep tax cuts by the Rajapaksa government. To pile on, the pandemic wiped out most of Sri Lanka’s revenue bases, most significantly from the lucrative and vital tourism industry. To keep the economy afloat, the government leaned heavily on its foreign exchange reserves, deteriorating them by more than 70 percent in two years, and now their mistakes are catching up to them. 

Now that we’ve looked at the government one must consider the actual residents of the country which is an influential and significant 22 million. People living in Sri Lanka are going through one of the hardest times ever. Shortages of food and fuel have caused prices to soar. Inflation is now running at 30%, far more than a lot of people can afford. There have been power cuts, and a lack of medicines has brought the health system to the verge of collapse. With the people able to do so little they have now started to protest for change. 

The situation is certainly sad and is affecting millions of people. It’s really unfortunate to think about how the residents have almost no say in what is going on and can do so little. When asking Yorba Linda High School students for a quote one person Nikole Galea (10) commented: “It really is a sad situation and I hope that it can get better soon”.