ECONOMYNEXT – Ukrainian tourists in Sri Lanka who held a protest Monday (28) morning to show the world the “real beastly face of Putin’s dictatorship” have asked the island nation’s government and its people, who lived through their own war, for support in Ukraine’s “struggle for freedom”
In a statement issued on Monday (28), a group calling itself the Ukrainian community in Sri Lanka asked for the South Asian nation to help the world hear them.
“We wholeheartedly ask the government of Sri Lanka to stand on the bright side and support us in our struggle for freedom, independence, and peace.
“Our Lankan friends! A whole generation of your children grew up in the war and you wholeheartedly understand what is happening in our mother Ukraine. Be with us in this difficult time for us! Your friendly strong shoulder and words of sympathy are very important to us today and we are very grateful to you for your sincere support and humanity,” the statement said.
In the early hours of Monday, Ukraine tourists in Sri Lanka held a protest outside the Russian embassy in Colombo condemning President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of their country and calling on the Russian public to pressure their leader to withdraw.
In the statement handed to the media, the protesting Ukrainians drew attention to Russian casualty figures and alleged atrocities by Russian forces including a bombing of a children’s hospital in Kyiv.
“The Ukrainian army is repelling Putin’s invaders with extreme courage, defending every metre of our homeland. Thanks to our soldiers, in the past four days, the enemy has not succeeded to advance deep into our country and has not captured any major city,” it said.
“We are having this peaceful demonstration to show the world the truth, to show the real beastly face of Putin’s dictatorship,” it added.
Protestors gathered outside the Russian embassy urged peace-loving Russian citizens to put pressure on the Kremlin.
“My people in Ukraine are being killed by Russian invaders. I can’t contact my dad. He has been silent for five hours. I can’t contact my friends. They’re hiding from bombing,” a young protestor told Sri Lankan reporters.
“Russian people have by now haven’t done anything to stop it. My role here is to beg you. Russian people, please, go out on the streets. I know this is scary. I know your government is very cruel. But if all of you take action, I have so many Russian friends. I want us to live in peace,” she said.
The protestors were seen carrying placards with slogans like “Ukraine will win” and “Russia attacks Ukraine”.
Monday’s protest was a series of activities organisd by Ukranians holidaying in Sri Lanka ever since Putin declared war last Thursday (24). Most recently, a group of tourists held a silent vigil held in the Galle Fort, a popular tourist destination in the island’s south.
Sri Lanka’s government, meanwhile, is considering extending the visas issued for both Ukrainian and Russian tourists in the country.
Tourism and Aviation Minister Prassanna Ranatunga told EconomyNext: ‘’The measure will be proposed at the cabinet meeting tomorrow. A gazette approval will need to be taken if the visa extension is to be done free of charge.’’
Sri Lanka considering visa extensions for Ukrainian, Russian tourists
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has affected tourism in the island nation, with sources saying a majority of new arrivals to Sri Lanka from different countries have been cancelled or postponed.
Data from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority show that there were 9,883 Ukrainian arrivals period, whilst the Russian arrivals stand at 18,044. (Colombo/Feb28/2022)