A protest village is needed: ‘Gota Go Gama’ unites diverse Sri Lankans

As the island nation of Sri Lanka suffers the worst economic crisis in its recent history, hundreds of people from various backgrounds have taken shelter since April in a protest held at a “Gota Go Gama” (GGG) makeshift village in front of the president’s office. in the capital. Colombo city.

In a country that has long struggled with ethnic and religious conflict, GGG is not only a center of protest, but also a rare glimpse of what a unified Sri Lanka could look like. Inside the sprawling tent city, generations of mistrust between groups like Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus and Muslims seem to give way to camaraderie, tolerance and learning. Here, Sri Lankans come together with one goal: to send home their elected president.

Shamara Wettimuny, a history scholar at Oxford University, says it takes courage for minority groups to take part in the ongoing protest, given years of persecution by the state and the majority Buddhist community. She says: “[Gota Go Gama] has received support from all over the island, in creative and unique ways. The effect of such experiences may not translate into solidarity overnight, but I am optimistic that in the long run we will be in a better place than we are now.”

why are we writing this

In a nation divided by ethnic-religious differences, a makeshift protest village is a platform for sustained demonstrations against political mismanagement, generating a sense of unity among Sri Lanka’s diverse people.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

For two months, Mohammed Shermila has camped outside the president’s office in the capital city of Colombo, enduring the scorching sun and occasional torrential rain to demand the resignation of Sri Lanka’s powerful leader, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

“We’re not leaving until he’s gone,” she says from her blue tent covered in Sri Lankan flags. Ms. Shermila, a Muslim street vendor here, is one of hundreds of Sri Lankans who have barricaded themselves in the “Gota Go Gama” (GGG) makeshift village since April, as the island nation suffers the worst economic crisis in its recent history. Years of mismanagement have resulted in severe shortages of basics like fuel and cooking gas, as well as daily power outages and rising prices.

In a country that has long struggled with ethnic and religious conflict, GGG is not just a center of protest, but a rare glimpse of what a unified Sri Lanka could look like. Inside the sprawling tent city, generations of mistrust between groups like Sinhalese Buddhists, Tamil Hindus and Muslims seem to give way to camaraderie, tolerance and learning. Here, Sri Lankans come together with one goal: to send home their elected president.

why are we writing this

In a nation divided by ethnic-religious differences, a makeshift protest village is a platform for sustained demonstrations against political mismanagement, generating a sense of unity among Sri Lanka’s diverse people.

Shamara Wettimuny, a history scholar at Oxford University, says it takes courage for minority groups to take part in the protest, given years of persecution by the state and the majority Buddhist community. However, she describes GGG as “the most united protest we have seen in recent times” and says that while it does not guarantee lasting peace, this period of cooperation could usher in a stronger post-crisis democracy.

“[Gota Go Gama] it has received support from all over the island, in creative and unique ways,” she says. “The effect of such experiences may not translate into solidarity overnight, but I am optimistic that in the long run we will be in a better place than we are now.”

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