The Cost of “People’s Riots” – Role of social media in Sri Lanka & France & double standards in commentary

In France, a teenager is accused of being killed by French police. Yet, can  riots, burning vehicles, stealing goods, burning libraries, damaging public property bring justice?  In 2022, Sri Lanka experienced shortages in essential goods that other nations also went through but the reaction was to illegally occupy state land, cause mayhem, damage, steal & burn property while chasing out an elected leader & allowing an unelected leader to take the helm. How did this become the solution? When essential goods suddenly became available, it does raise questions of whether the “scarcity” was part of the plot as many of those who controlled the supply chain were involved in the 2022 people’s protest. Eventually, the damage has to be borne by the People and this is a wastage of public money which could have been utilized for health, education & welfare.

1 April to 10 August 2022 Galle Face Green was illegally occupied. Damage to Galle Face Green is estimated to be Rs.5million – which again will have to be paid by the Tax Payers. (10 May 2022) (11 May 2022)


The Presidents House, official residence of the President is over 200 years old.

The present President’s House was brought under British Colonial Administration in 1804 and became the official residence of the Governor of Ceylon.

In 1948 it became the official residence of the Governor General of Ceylon.

Queen Elizabeth 2 stayed in it during her visit to Ceylon in 1954.

It became known as the Queens House & became the residence of Sir Oliver Goonetilleke who was appointed Governor General. William Gopallawa took residence when he became Governor General in 1962. After Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972, Queens House became Presidents House.

“People’s Protestors” Damage People’s Property

In 2022 tens of thousands of protestors stormed & invaded several state buildings.

Their illegal occupation left a trail of unprecedented & irreversible damage that every aragala participant will have to should culpability for the damage, destruction & theft that ensued.

More than 1000 valuable artefacts including vintage & antiques missing from Presidents Palace & Prime Minister’s Official Residence – Temple Trees.



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Damage to the PM’s official residence in Temple Trees

  • Vandalized
  • Colonial carpet beyond repair
  • Chairs belonging to the Dutch period & cutlery/crockery sets removed from racks & either broken or stolen
  • Windows shattered.
  • Graffiti drawn on walls
  • Walls & floor damaged as a result of people looking for secret rooms

Damage to the Presidential Secretariat

  • Colonial carpet beyond repair
  • Windows shattered
  • Graffiti drawn on walls
  • Walls & floor damaged as a result of people looking for secret rooms
  • State files missing & papers scrambled everywhere

The present President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s private residence at 5th Lane also came under attack on 9 July when it was torched

  • A 125 year old piano was destroyed
  • More than 4000 books (some centuries old) were destroyed
  • Sedan damaged
  • Paintings & artwork strewn across the house

Inspite of the alarming damage done some of which is irreversible and that which money cannot replace, the European Union & its 27 Member States were only bothered about allowing the “peaceful protestors” to behave as they liked. Their statement condemned the “recent vicious attack against peaceful protesters”.

Even French TV commentary clearly showed a biased stand & end objective to change government.

Now let us move to the riots in France.

Reason: killing of a 17 year old Lebanese boy driving a Mercedes by police in Nanterre on 27 June 2023. Police claim he attempted to drive away when asked to stop. Rioters were even using firearms. Ironically the 2005 French riots also was triggered after the death of 2 Muslim teenagers, electrocuted while hiding from police. The protests lasted 3 weeks and more than 4000 were arrested.

Protest outside police headquarters escalated into riots – setting cars ablaze, destroying buses, even a school was set on fire.

27 June – Town Hall set ablaze in Mantes-la-Jolie

Riots spread: Toulouse, Lille, Asnieres, Colombes, Suresnes Aubervilliers, Clichy-sous-Bois and Mantes-la-Jolie

20 policemen injured

31 arrested

28 June – riots around Greater Paris region. Over 100 protestors clashed with police

13 arrested

20 vehicles burned.

27 national police stations / 4 gendarmerie barracks / 14 municipal police stations attacked

8 town halls, 6 schools, 6 public buildings attacked

More than 90 public buildings were attacked.

170 policemen injured

609 vehicles damaged

109 buildings damaged

29 June – 6200 people participate in march in solidarity with family of deceased

150 arrested / 24 policemen injured / 40 cars torched / Interior Minister deployed 1200 riot police & gendarmes in & around Paris. This number increased to 40,000 nationwide.

30 June – Orders given to stop bus & tram services by 9p.m. / prohibit sale & transport of fireworks mortars, petrol cans & other dangerous substances

President Macron cancels visit to Germany but is criticized for attending concert.

Bibliotheque l’Alcazar in Marseille, city’s largest public library is set on fire.

Holocaust memorial defaced & Nanterre.

2 July – Mayor of L’Hay-les-Roses home attacked / Town Hall repeatedly attacked over several nights. Attackers rammed car into front gate of Mayors home where his wife & 2 children were asleep. Wife suffered a broken leg & one child was injured. Attempted murder investigation is commenced.



4 July – 4 policemen in Rhone were shot by rioters with a shotgun. A gun store was also looted.

Riots had spread to other parts of Europe too – Belgium (29 June) & Switzerland as well as Canada.

The world is bothered about misinformation in France but not about misinformation in Sri Lanka.

A British party shared a 2020 video claiming that to be armed rioters n France.

A 2022 video of a robbery in California was shown as a jewellery robbery in France.

Not too many are up in arms over President Macron blaming parents for the behavior of youth & his critic of social media & video games intoxicating teens. How would the world react if Sri Lankan President made a similar statement? media coverage of Sri Lanka’s “aragalaya” is compiled

Surprisingly the UNHRC issued a statement on 30 June urging France to ‘seriously address” the “deep-rooted issues of racism & racial discrimination” within its law enforcement agencies.

Surprisingly too, US, UK, Norway, Turkey, Canada & even some European countries cautioned their citizens from visiting France and issued warnings for tourists.


When Sri Lanka banned social media in view of certain media (local & international) fueling people’s minds with 24×7 commentary, Sri Lanka was accused of stifling “media freedom” and “freedom of speech”. That “freedom of speech” Sweden is promoting is to allow to even burn the Holy Quran. What kind of “freedom” is this? No one should be allowed to desecrate any religious book.

The same situation has boomeranged on France. The hypocrisy of their reaction is what needs to be highlighted. While it is not ok for Sri Lanka to censor media, France & West considers it is quite acceptable. What kind of international law & order is this?

After 1 week of riots in France

  • 320 towns & cities have been affected by the riots & more than $3.2 billion worth of damage.
  • More than 10,000 cars burned & more than 3000 businesses & buildings were damaged, some of which were reduced to rubble.
  • more than 700 supermarkets, banks, and stores, some of which were reduced to rubble.
  • 100s of upscale stores vandalized & robbed.

Coincidentally, police have made over 3300 arrests but no FRENCH BLACK COATS came to courts to clap or release the arrested FREE OF CHARGE or even clapped for them or help posters on behalf of the rioters & we did not see any French Bar Association come forward siding the protestors either!


Shenali D Waduge

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