COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Sunday arrested over 600 protestors violating the curfew in Western Province imposed from 6 pm from Saturday to 6 am on Monday.
The Police said that 664 individuals were arrested in the Western Province between 10.00 pm last night and 6.00 am today, reported Colombo Gazette. Ahead of the planned protest for Sunday, the island nation had declared a 36-hour curfew as the country faced a severe power crisis and rising inflation.
The island nation of 22 million people is having a hard time dealing with blackouts for up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports. An island-wide curfew was declared ahead of an 'Arab Spring" style protest, reported Colombo Gazette.
The Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. The island nation is facing an unprecedented economic crisis. Sri Lanka's economy has been in a free fall since the COVID-19 pandemic due to the crash of the tourism sector.
Sri Lanka government has also imposed a nationwide social media blackout after midnight on Sunday, April 3, according to an internet observatory. Some two dozen social media platforms were affected including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.
Responding to the ban on social media, Namal Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Cabinet Minister of Youth and Sports said that such bans are useless due to the availability of VPNs (virtual private network).
"I will never condone the blocking of social media. The availability of VPN, just like I'm using now, makes such bans completely useless. I urge the authorities to think more progressively and reconsider this decision," tweeted Namal Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka is presently facing a foreign exchange shortage which has led to a food, fuel, power and gas shortage and has sought the assistance of friendly countries for economic assistance. Sri Lanka is witnessing at least 13-hour daily power cuts. Sri Lanka's currency has been also devalued by almost SLR 90 against the US dollar since March 8.