Mövenpick, Colombo

Turret Road, October 2022.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/200 • ISO25600 • R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •


Coke of the Masses

Colpetty Junction, Colombo. October 2022.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO12800 •

Open to the Public

Protestors stroll freely in and out of the once heavily barricaded rear gate of Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister of Sri Lanka, unhindered by the police. On 9th July 2022, protestors stormed several government buildings in Colombo, including President’s House and the Presidential Secretariat, in spite of initial resistance by the authorities, who used water cannon, tear gas, and even live ammunition on the advancing crowd, holding them off until President Gotabaya Rajapakse had made his escape. In contrast, the president’s brother, Mahinda Rajapakse, who had been forced to resign as PM in May, under the weight of public demand, abandoned Temple Trees well in advance of the protestors. The president himself would announce his resignation later that afternoon, and flee the country four days later, leaving the country in the hands of a caretaker president, Ranil Wickremesinghe who, in late July and August, would oversee the arrest and detention of many protestors, charging them with petty violations, such as trespassing, vandalism, and disturbance of the peace.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/200 • ISO1600 •

Forbidden Ground

Special Task Force policemen look on as protestors stroll unrestricted through the grounds of Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister of Sri Lanka, once one of the most heavily guarded and fortified spots in Colombo. 9th July 2022. Forced, by the weight of public protest, to resign in May, Mahinda Rajapakase had fled earlier that day.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/100 • ISO800 •

Gota, Go Home

Except for its flag seemingly at half-mast in deference, the façade of the US Embassy remains impassive to the Sri Lankans protesting before it, on Galle Road, in Colombo, on 9th July 2022, demanding President Gotabaya Rajapakse resign. A former dual citizen, Rajapakse gave up his American nationality to run for the Sri Lankan presidency in November 2019. There is now speculation, however, on whether he had divested himself of his US citizenship at the time of his nomination, leading to further queries on the legality of his presidency. By the end of the day, Rajapakse would announce his resignation and, three days later, would be refused a visa to enter the USA. On 13th July he would flee to the Maldives, and on to Singapore, accused of corruption, ineptness, and creating the biggest economic catastrophe in Sri Lankan history.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/3200 • ISO400 •

Under the Temple Trees

Young protestors occupy the grounds of Temple Trees, the official Colpetty residence of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. 9th July 2022. The day began with violent clashes between the frontline of the protest and the authorities, who used tear gas, batons, and even live ammunition to hold off protestors from President’s House, in the Colombo Fort, until its reviled resident, Gotabaya Rajapakse, could escape to safety. In contrast, Temple Trees was captured with little violence, in the late afternoon; Mahinda Rajapakse, the president’s brother, having been forced out of office in May, had left before the residence was overrun. Gotabaya Rajapakse himself would flee the country four days later.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/200 • ISO400 •

Captive Ground

Pushing through the once forbidding gates, protestors crowd past one of the temple trees for which the official residence of the prime minister of Sri Lanka was first named in 1856. It was the third government building to be occupied on 9th July 2022. Earlier that day, the frontline of the protest had braved gunfire, teargas, and baton-wielding police to capture first the Presidential Secretariat at Galle Face, and then President’s House, in the Colombo Fort, the official residence of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse. In contrast, Temple Trees, in Colpetty, was taken with relatively little resistance, its occupant, former PM Mahinda Rajapakse (he had been forced to resign, but not vacate, two months previously), having already fled.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/100 • ISO400 •

Rising Colombo #2

Downtown Colombo, and Stanley Jansz Grounds, Colpetty. February 2022.

Fresh Fruit

Fruit & Veges at the Colpetty Market #3 by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
The Colpetty Market, Colombo, Sri Lanka. April 2018. To learn more about this interesting old doyen of the city, check out my photo story, ‘Prevailing Against All Odds‘, in Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines.

One Year on: the Faces of Protest #2

Pro-Democracy Rally, Colombo, Sri Lanka #17 by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com
A pro-democracy protestor outside Temple Trees, the Colombo residence of Sri Lanka’s deposed prime minister. 30th October 2018.
Continue reading “One Year on: the Faces of Protest #2”