Home World Go Gota Go: Students take frontline in Lanka protests – Times of...

Go Gota Go: Students take frontline in Lanka protests – Times of India


COLOMBO : As sun set on Tuesday, Independence Square in Colombo’s Cinnamon Gardens, a symbol of the start of self-rule in Sri Lanka, came alive. Protesters as young as 12 and as old as 70, but most of them students, gathered on the Square’s ramparts, holding up posters and shouting slogans. ‘Go Gota Go…You messed with the wrong generation… Stop ruining our country, return our stolen money. ’ The slogans, referring to Gotabaya Rajapaksa and other politicians, were harsh. As the group of around 350 youngsters, sloganeered, there were no policemen in sight.
Milshan Wijenayake, 17, stood close to his Tamil friend Krish Praba, 20, as they raised their voice against the country’s worst economic crisis ever. “We started our protests last Saturday. I am trying to balance my studies and the protest,” said Wijenayake, who has the support of his parents. “Sri Lanka is going downhill. We want to stop this,” said he and another Tamil friend Rikkey Kailingam.
M Rajendran, who accompanied his two college-going daughters to the protest, said, “We are uniting for a cause. For long, politicians kept Ta- mils, Muslims and Sinhalese divided. Now, Sri Lankans are coming together. ” There were school and college students, a surgeon, a make-up artist, housewives and housemaids, raising slogans with equal fervour. “Wehave the freedom of speech. As long as we don’t damage public property, what is wrong,” asked Wijenayake.
“People are suffering. We can’t be mute spectators,” said Shafraz Parack,18, who just completed his A levels.
On Galle Road, protesters gathered outside Sri Lanka’s tourism office despite a heavy downpour. They were mostly government staff. Tourism was a big revenue earner for the country. “We have to point out the government inefficiency,” said a protester, reluctant to reveal his identity. What’s clear is that people from all walks of life are joining the protests.

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