Sri Lanka’s State Of Emergency: At present, Sri Lanka, the neighboring country of India with a population of 20 million, is caught in a serious deep political and economic crisis. This is the worst situation here in the last seven decades. The President of this country could not face the rebellion against Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s own government and fled the country. Hours after his departure, Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared a nationwide emergency. Earlier last week, Wickremesinghe had declared the island nation bankrupt. However, this is not the first time that a state of emergency has been imposed in this country. The period of emergency has been there in the history of this country. If seen, this country has faced the brunt of emergency for almost four decades. Today we are going to turn the pages of this dark history of this country where the power has repeatedly resorted to emergency to hide its failure.
The fledgling president also imposed emergency
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency on 6 May. The move was taken by him to “ensure public order” after a nationwide strike by angry protesters who blamed him for the unprecedented economic crisis. However, it was lifted almost two weeks later on 21 May. Earlier, on 1 April, the President had declared a state of emergency. Then thousands of protesters took to the streets to protest against power cuts and shortage of essential commodities. Protesters tried to enter the president’s private residence in the capital Colombo. This emergency was lifted on 14 April. It is worth mentioning that Rajapaksa had also resorted to this measure on August 30 in 2021 last year to prevent hoarding of essential commodities in the troubled nation. However, this emergency was lifted within a few weeks.
Sri Lanka’s first emergency
Emergency was imposed for the first time in Sri Lanka in 1958 when the country adopted the Sinhala Only Language Policy. In this, there was talk of this language being a language of the whole country. This country got independence from the British in 1948. After this, a period of emergency had gone on in this island country. In the subsequent 74 years, many times emergency has been imposed here. It was dominated by the Sinhalese Empire in the 14th century. The capital of Sri Lanka under Sinhalese rule was Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. It is now the administrative capital of this country. The Portuguese came here in the 16th century. This empire was so great that even the Portuguese had to face it here and they made their capital Colombo.
The period of emergency has been there for many times since 1971.
The country was in a state of emergency several times during the rebellion of the leftist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna. This country has also faced a phase when emergency was imposed here for a long time. The longest period was of 27 years of emergency. This year 1983 started in July. Sri Lanka had to face such a long period of emergency because of the LTTE movement. Due to this, a situation like civil war had arisen here. Sri Lanka was in a state of emergency for 27 years due to these anti-Tamil riots. This situation remained here till August 2011. However, the country got some relief from this for some time in the years 1989 and 2001. One thing is common between the emergency imposed at this time and in the year 2022, that both these emergencies have been imposed in the month of July.
Emergency was also imposed in the year 2018
Before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka had to face emergency even during the time of 2018 President Maithripala Sirisena. Then anti-Muslim riots broke out in some parts of the country. Then emergency was resorted to to stop the violence. During this two people were killed. The situation here is still such that the country and the people are not getting rid of the emergency.
State of emergency in Sri Lanka
Emergency means the coming of a crisis on any country. There are rules and regulations to deal with this in all the countries of the world. In Sri Lanka, this authority is with the President under Article 155 of the Constitution here. Here too, like our country, the President can declare emergency in the apprehension of an internal, external or economic threat to the country. Sri Lanka’s 1947 Public Security Ordinance (1947 Public Security Ordinance-PSO) mentions the legal rights to implement it. This ordinance also empowers the President to make rules for emergency. When Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Laxman Kadirgamar was assassinated in the year 2005, new rules were also included in this ordinance. After facing pressure and criticism at the international level, the Sri Lankan government also made some changes and amendments in the emergency ordinance, which proved to be insufficient. Here the rules of emergency are valid for one month. If the President has to impose emergency for a month or more, then it is necessary to get the approval of the country’s Parliament within 14 days. In case of non-presentation in Parliament, the emergency is lifted.
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