Aragalaya Before it became the ‘ antharé ’. Before it became a bandwagon for the JVP. Before the and the political speeches and the Gotagogama. Just regular Sri Lankan people, desperate and angry and demanding change. Green Path, Colombo. 4th April 2022.
• 70mm • f/11 • 1/500 • ISO800 •
Before it became the ‘Aragalaya’. Before it became a bandwagon for the JVP. Before the antharé and the street performers and the Gotagogama. Just regular Sri Lankan people, desperate and angry and demanding change. Green Path, Colombo. 4th April 2022.
• 120mm • f/5.6 • 1/400 • ISO400 •
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 •
Colombo, Sri Lanka. 9th July 2022.
• 120mm • f/5.6 • 1/1000 • ISO400 •
“අපි ආවා කොළඹට, ගෝටා එපා කිව්ව!” ට (“We came to Colombo, though Gota said no!”) chant hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans covering the Galle Face Green promenade in downtown Colombo, on 9th July 2022; the culmination of months of demonstrations demanding President Gotabaya Rajapakse step down. Since the protests began in April, Gotabaya’s brothers, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Finance Minister Basil Rajapakse have been forced to step down, accused of corruption and ineptitude that has caused the worst economic catastrophe in the country’s recorded history. After protestors overran President’s House and several other government offices and official residences on the 9th, and burned down the home of current Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that night, President Gotabaya Rajapakse fled the country, though he continues to issue decrees while in exile, amidst mounting tension and clashes between protestors and the in Sri Lankan police.
• 50mm • f/4.5 • 1/2500 • ISO400 •
“ජය බන්දා ලොවේ ධජ ලෙළවා අපේ, අපි එනවා මගේ අම්මේ!” And they did, with Lion Flags waving and drums pounding, packed into convoys of lorries carrying water and supplies for the struggle, in tuk tuks, and on lone scooters and, in their hundreds of thousands, on foot, overrunning downtown Colombo, demanding that Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse step down. 9th July 2022.
• 200mm • f/5.6 • 1/250 • ISO400 • Continue reading
““Jaya Banda Lowe, Dhaja Lelawa Apey, Api Enawa Mage Amme!”” →
Joyous protestors in downtown Colombo, minutes after Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapakse announced his resignation. 9th July 2022. Nationwide demonstrations that began in April had succeeded in ousting Rajapakse’s brothers and nephew from senior cabinet positions, accused of corruption and ineptitude that has caused the worst economic catastrophe in Sri Lankan history.
• 135mm • f/5.6 • 1/1000 • ISO400 •
…But right or wrong, my country.* Ethnic minorities have been visibly present in the widespread protests calling for Sri Lankan President Gotab haya Rajapakse and his government to resign; none more so than the country’s Muslim community, typically distinguished by their conspicuous garb. Long an undeserved target of the chauvinistic politics that has plagued the country since independence in 1948, the Muslims have been especially marked for persecution in the decade following the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009. Announcing his run for the presidency days after the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019, Gotabhaya Rajapakse blamed the Muslims for the act of terrorism, accusing them of killing hundreds, and vowing to stamp out Islamic extremism and restore national security. Borne aloft on a wave of fear and nationalism, he won a landslide victory seven months later, but today stands charged with having engineered the bombings himself as a ploy to gain power. The country’s majority Sinhalese Buddhists, similarly making up the bulk of the protestors accusing the government of corruption and ineptitude, have welcomed minority participation; presenting, for now at least, a united voice for change. Colombo, April 2022.
• 50mm • f/4.5 • 1/1250 • ISO400 •
*An oft-used misquote of American Commodore Stephen Decatur’s “after victory over the Barbary pirates in 1816. “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!”