Commentary: Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis is only going to get more violent

6 days ago 40

SYDNEY: Sri Lanka is descending into a full-blown political and economic crisis, as more people contend with starvation, death and severe disruptions. Now they are also facing the brutal violence of the state. 

The BBC reports that at least nine people died and more than 200 were injured as vehicles and houses were set alight during fighting between government supporters and critics this week.

The island is facing its worst economic crisis since independence, and the responses of the state indicate that it is incapable of protecting its citizens.

MILITARY FORCE WILL ESCALATE VIOLENCE

The deployment of military force, however, is unlikely to quell unrest. The anger and frustration displayed by the public, aggravated by pro-government protesters, is only likely to grow fuelling further distrust in the ruling government.

The army was this week given orders to shoot “law-breakers” on sight, as people gathered on the streets to protest shortages in food, fuel and medicines. Economic problems underpin the recent political unrest, with Sri Lanka confronting the very real prospect of bankruptcy as its foreign reserves run dry.

The country’s 22 million citizens are now suffering thanks to a legacy of government corruption, nepotism and poor economic management. The island is deeply in debt to China and unable to raise enough revenue due to a slew of tax cuts.

Its nationalist president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, came to office in November 2019 after campaigning on national securit...

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