NewsWorldThese videos do not show ministers being abused during...

These videos do not show ministers being abused during protests in Sri Lanka

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Published on: 20/05/2022 – 17:33 At least two videos posted on social networks claim to show examples of humiliation or mistreatment of Sri Lankan ministers in the context of the economic crisis that the country is going through and the demonstrations that she spawned. If the attacks against the personal property of ministers did take place and that a deputy was even killed during the demonstrations, these two videos were taken out of their initial context. Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948, suffering for months from the scarcity of essential goods, long daily power cuts and record inflation, and also a shortage of gasoline. A state of emergency was declared on May 6, and soldiers patrol the streets. At least nine people died in clashes last week and more than 350 people were arrested during protests that turned violent. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned on May 9 after violent anti-government protests , and a new Prime Minister was appointed three days later. On the sidelines of these political changes, videos have thus emerged on social networks, mainly in English and Hindi, claiming to show the demonstrators attacking Sri Lankan ministers, accused of being responsible for the situation in the country. stripped and humiliated ministers? No, prisoners involved in fights The first viral video that appeared on Twitter in particular shows naked men exposed in front of a crowd taking pictures of them. The caption in English claims they are “ministers from Sri Lanka” and adds “the Pakistani government has banned any information coming from Sri Lanka so that they do not suffer the same fate” in reference to Pakistani politicians. A search for the video with the InVid Weverify tool (see how to use it here) allows you to find articles that have documented the video like this one, or even this tweet explaining that the people are prisoners of Watareka prison, in Colombo, filmed on the sidelines of an anti-government protest on May 9. The IndiaToday site also investigated the video and quotes a Sri Lankan journalist translating the prisoners’ comments. The latter indicate: “We are prisoners of the Watareka camp. We were authorized to work on construction sites and on the way back to the prison. A jailer took us to a protest site”. These prisoners were suspected by protesters of having been recruited by politicians to attack protesters in Colombo on 9 May. According to the BBC website in Sinhala, the language of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka’s prisons department denied on May 10 that prisoners were taken to the demonstration to attack protesters. In a statement, the department said at least 180 prisoners were being transported from three construction sites to the prison when the buses carrying them were attacked by protesters. According to the same press release, the prisoners were forcibly taken out of their bus and attacked by the demonstrators, because they were suspected of being favorable to the government. None of them is in these articles presented as a resigning minister or ex-minister. The Minister of Information beaten up? No, just a councilman A second video shows a man in his underwear, introduced as Sri Lanka’s information minister, and visibly groggy after being beaten up by protesters. A search for the video with the InVid WeVerify tool (see here how to do it) allows you to find the extract in a video from May 9 on the Twitter account of the Sri Lanka Daily Mirror newspaper. The man in the video is actually Mahinda Kahandagama, the president of the Colombo Councilors and Employees Union. This local representative organized a rally in support of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, before the latter resigned. He was then confronted by opposition protesters who attacked him and stripped him of his clothes. Mahinda Kahandagama was not at the time of the protests, and has never been, Sri Lanka’s Information Minister. Comparison between the photo of Mahinda Kahandagama on the left, and the man in the video on the right, are the same person. © Observers Mahinda Kahandagama is on a list of 17 politicians banned from traveling amid investigations into attacks on peaceful protesters. He is suspected of having hired onlookers to attack them. The current Minister of Information and Media is Nalaka Godahewa as indicated on the Sri Lankan ministry’s website. The latter confirmed to AFP that he was not the man in the video, although his house was attacked by demonstrators when he was not there on May 12. Minister killed by mob, attacks on homes and property of Sri Lankan ministers May 9th. Amarakeerthi Athukorala was lynched by a mob after his bodyguard killed a protester by shooting him with a gun. Demonstrators also attacked the property of members of the government, or supposed to belong to them. For example, a car supposedly belonging to a minister was thrown into a river in Colombo on May 11. The uprising in Sri Lanka. The former minister’s car was thrown into the water by protesters in Colombo. Residences, property and vehicles of members of the ruling party are being attacked all over the island. pic.twitter.com/ijgmnlewUO— 0V3RG4M3 (@AxlGuidato) May 11, 2022 Homes have also been targeted, such as that of former Transport Minister, Johnson Fernando, as well as the residence of resigning Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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