A top Sri Lankan trade union leader in the forefront of protests that led to the ousting of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the presidency was arrested on Wednesday, witnesses and officials said.
Joseph Stalin, the secretary of the Sri Lanka Teachers’ Union, is the most senior protester to be arrested in a crackdown after Rajapaksa was forced to flee last month.
“He is being arrested for holding a demonstration in May in violation of a court order,” police told reporters at Stalin’s union office in Colombo as he was being detained.
Scores of others have already been remanded in custody by police on charges of damage to public property during months of protests which peaked with the storming of Rajapaksa’s palace on July 9.
Tens of thousands of people incensed by the island nation’s economic crisis stormed Rajapaksa’s palace and his seafront office, forcing him to flee the country and later resign.
Rajapaksa’s successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has drawn a distinction between “protesters” and “rioters” and vowed tough action against “any troublemaker.”
Police also arrested another protester who had raided a liquor cabinet of the deposed leader, downed a beer and took off with a presidential mug.
The 43-year-old man’s arrest comes after he shared a photograph of himself on Facebook at Colombo’s Presidential Palace, a police official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
The man was arrested earlier this week for alleged unlawful entry into a state building and retaining stolen property.
“He will be brought to Colombo to stand trial,” the official said.
The palace was occupied for about 10 days before it was handed back to the authorities.
Last week, police arrested another trade union member from the Colombo port for removing two official flags from the palace and using them as a bedsheet and a sarong.
He was identified from the videos he had shared on social media.
Sri Lanka’s 22 million people have endured months of blackouts, record inflation and shortages of food, fuel and gasoline.
Rajapaksa had been blamed by protesters for mismanaging the nation’s finances and public anger had simmered for months before the mass demonstrations that forced his ouster.
Soon after protesters overran the Presidential Palace, there were social media posts of them frolicking in the presidential pool and bouncing on four-poster beds inside the sprawling compound.
Protesters also turned over to authorities about 17.5 million rupees (US$49,000) in crisp banknotes that had been found in one of the presidential palace’s rooms.
The military late last month demolished a protest camp outside the president’s office that had campaigned for Rajapaksa’s ouster — a move that drew international condemnation accusing troops of using excessive force on demonstrators.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
Newly married and with his first child on the way, auto worker Wang (王) wanted to move into the apartment he bought in Wuhan three years ago, but those hopes were dashed by China’s ballooning property crisis. Saddled with nearly US$300,000 in debt and with his unit nowhere near completion, the 34-year-old decided he had enough and stopped making mortgage payments. He is among numerous home buyers across dozens of cities in China who have boycotted payments over fears that their properties will not be completed by cash-strapped, debt-laden developers. “They said construction would resume soon,” Wang said, only giving his surname. “But
PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS: Seoul voiced ‘strong regret’ as Kim’s sister threatened to eradicate South Korean authorities for sending the virus across the border North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffered from a “high fever” during a recent COVID-19 outbreak, his sister Kim Yo-jong said yesterday, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus. Kim Yo-jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel