Fearing another attack, Parliament website removes details of MPs
COLOMBO – Sri Lanka’s Parliament website has temporarily removed the addresses and contact numbers of all 225 legislators after repeated requests from elected lawmakers with regard to their safety, amid fears the looming food crisis and fuel shortage could lead to a repeat of May 9 violence, a Parliament official said.
On May 9, angry protesters damaged and torched properties of over 70 ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna (SLPP) after supporters of then prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa brutally attacked unarmed and peaceful youth-led demonstrators in Colombo. The clashes killed at least 10 people including a SLPP legislator and injured around 300 across the country.
Analysts see increase in fuel prices, soaring cost of living, loss of employment in the informal sector, high price of food and transport, long waiting in fuel, cooking gas queues, and daily power cuts have led people to protest on the roads time to time. Some fear such protests could lead to riots, which could easily spread all over the country, given the high frustrations faced by average Sri Lankans.
“On and around the 9th of May, 70 houses were burnt down and requests had been made by MPs to temporarily remove the addresses of the website,” a parliamentary official said, asking not to be named.
The May 9 violent clash later led to the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa from the prime minister post. Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in three days later.
Sri Lanka has been seeing long queues for essentials throughout the country, which has led to frustration and spontaneous protests near fuel-filling stations and gas dealers, demanding adequate supplies of essentials.
“The crisis has led to a complete erosion in the values of the public. We can’t blame the people because they have lost a lot. They have lost their income, people are hungry and waiting in queues for days and days,” the Parliament official said.
Before the move, the residential addresses ad contact numbers of Sri Lanka parliamentarians were available in the Parliament website. However, the latest move has deleted the contact details and addresses of the 225 lawmakers.
“Residence addresses and numbers are personal information. So when requests had been made to hide the information, we had to do that because addresses of MPs have nothing to do with their constitutional duties,” the official said.
“The situation of the general public is very unpredictable and unhealthy, the entire social fabric is damaged, there is room for anything to happen and we can’t predict what will happen next.”