Behind the Lens: Sri Lanka presidential palace overflows

Behind the Lens: Sri Lanka presidential palace overflows

by Related Press

16 December 2022 GMT

Related Press photographers discuss their 2022 mission and share a number of the tales behind the pictures.


LOCATION: Colombo, Sri Lanka

STORY: Sri Lankan protesters raid leaders’ areas

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Eranga Jayawardena and Rafiq Maqbool



JAYAWARDENA: I used to be filming a cricket check match between Australia and Sri Lanka about 100 kilometers south of the capital Colombo. Listening to the information that folks have been flocking to President Rajapaksa’s official residence, I requested a buddy to assist me get again to Colombo to inform the story. I needed to pay him for fuel, which was 4 occasions the conventional value, as a result of it wasn’t out there within the grocery shops and folks stood in line for days. In about two hours, I reached the official palace of the president. I noticed a whole lot of protesters chanting, singing and dancing celebrating the victory. Some protesters did not like being photographed, however some did not discover. Their focus was on different points.

MAQBOOL: I used to be fearful: will they let me shoot inside? I did not know the way the military or the protesters would react. After I reached the door, I noticed a whole lot of individuals enter the presidential residence. No one was stopping them. They have been in a festive temper and have been celebrating by kicking the president and prime minister out of their residences and workplaces. After I entered the constructing, it was packed. We could not transfer, I used to be fearful as a result of there have been youngsters too, I believed in the event that they could not management the gang, there is perhaps a stampede. However individuals needed to see the place their corrupt leaders lived and labored, and so they have been celebrating that they have been capable of fireplace them.


JAYAWARDENA: The primary downside I confronted was transportation. I obtained assist from my photographer associates to get round. Till then, I had bought my car as a result of I couldn’t preserve it resulting from growing inflation. I had to choose – to pump gas at increased costs or spend that cash on groceries at house. Meals was extraordinarily troublesome to seek out. Till this time, there was zero cooking fuel availability available on the market. Tea retailers and meals eating places have been all closed. There was an indoor and out of doors meals vendor. My household had no cooking fuel for months and we cooked all of our meals with the assistance of a rice cooker.

Full protection: Pictures

I feel readers ought to know the dedication and the problem of telling this story within the midst of every kind of financial troubles. For me, that is the distinction between this story and different tales I’ve lined earlier than. You might be a part of the neighborhood of struggling and but you cowl up what others are doing. Although I am a reporter, I had a tough time discovering the necessities. Generally individuals reacted rudely when taking photos at fuel and kerosene traces. I attempted to beat their helpless emotions and perceive their helplessness by taking their place.

MAQBOOL: Renting a automotive was very troublesome. We paid 5 occasions extra and nonetheless there was no assure that you’d discover a taxi. The drivers mentioned, “We’ll come if we are able to discover fuel. In any other case no.” Generally we needed to stroll or if we have been fortunate we may discover a three-wheeled car. Luckily, the lodge I stayed at was fairly central, however strolling by means of a crowd of individuals along with your heavy tools was fairly annoying.


MAQBOOL: What struck me most about this story was the thought that though these have been protests to overthrow a authorities, they have been peaceable. Protesters have been extra eager on taking selfies on the presidential palace, and none of them broken or broken any furnishings or property. Nothing was damaged or damaged. It was just like the environment of a rustic truthful, however beneath it have been undertones of disappointment and despair. This was an attention-grabbing task as a result of it paperwork the devastating affect the mismanagement of the nation’s sources by the political elite has on the lives of peculiar individuals.


MAQBOOL: I have been to Sri Lanka many occasions; This was a barely totally different job for me. It was the primary time I witnessed a authorities overthrow. It made me understand that this might simply occur wherever on the earth. It additionally made me understand that it is a story as previous as historic kings and emperors. Corruption and greed have at all times been robust causes for rulers to gamble with the well-being of their individuals. So in a manner, it wasn’t precisely a brand new perception, however reasonably a contemporary model of the identical historic story. Nonetheless, what remained with me from this mission was the grace, endurance and quiet dedication of the Sri Lankan individuals. They fought for his or her trigger and did so with braveness and dignity. They’re an instance that many people ought to emulate.

— Interview with Leslie Mazoch

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