Sri Lanka, economic crisis, & press freedom (What’s Happening newsletter 19/08/22)

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Sri Lanka resistance – background and history

Although the situation in Sri Lanka is complex and evolving, corrupt elites, captured media and international economic debt are themes emerging as major factors, as they so often do in the Global South.

The country’s inflation rate is soaring above 50%, and crippling debt has halted imports of fuel, medicine and even food. So disenfranchised rural communities, precarious workers, and a disillusioned youth movement all came together to fight the government, causing Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country.

But this powerful symbolic victory was soon met with concerns over human rights violations as the Sri Lankan government cracked down on protesters.

In the first of a two part investigation, we look at the context, recent history and background leading up to the current uprising.

Read the full article Sri Lanka – the people rising. Part 1 – History and background

Economic crisis – energy crisis

Professor and economic justice campaigner Richard Murphy says “we are now facing an economic crisis as large as those in 2008 and 2020”, and he has proposed a plan to tackle it. One of the culprits for the mess we’re in, he insists, is “profiteering energy companies”. In a summary of his suggestions, he targets British energy regulator Ofgem. This needs “radical reform”, he stresses. He continues:

“One reason our energy prices are so high in the UK is that it maximises energy prices to deliver guaranteed profit for energy companies. It does not protect consumers. It protects profits.”

Meanwhile, campaign group We Own It commissioned a poll whose results showed that around two thirds of Brits believe in public ownership of energy, water, buses, rail, the Royal Mail, and the NHS. With this mass support in mind, the group has launched a petition calling on the government to nationalise private energy company Bulb, which Westminster is planning to bail out to the tune of £2.2bn. Now, the campaigners say, “is the perfect time to set up a publicly owned company” and use it “to cut our energy bills”.

McDonald’s update

In response to our article earlier in August, a member of McDonald’s UK press team contacted Real Media asking us to share the internal memos we referred to, which appear to indicate a corporate plan to cut down trees and vegetation at UK McDonald’s sites. In order to protect our source, we of course declined.

We asked them again if they would like to confirm that no such plan exists, and offered to publish any response they’d care to give to our questions.

A week has passed and we’ve heard nothing back.

If you live near a McDonald’s (especially drive-through outlets), please have a look around and see if any trees or foliage might be obscuring a clear view of the site from nearby roads. If so, take a photo and send it (with the location) to Please keep an eye on the site over the coming months and immediately let us know if anything gets removed or cut back, and/or if any plastic grass is installed.

Together, we can and will prevent any such ecocide.

ICYMI read the background to this investigation here.

Journalist arrested at UK arms company protest

In last week’s newsletter we reported on the Palestine Action occupation of an arms shipment company. We heard shortly after that an award-winning Arab photographic journalist and filmmaker, Saeed Taji Farouky, was arrested by UK police at the scene. He was held overnight and his electronic devices were seized.

Saeed has reported from conflict zones and dictatorships around the world for 18 years and had never been arrested before for journalism.

Remember, both current candidates for prime minister have promised to extricate the UK from the European Court of Human Rights, and replace the Human Rights Act with a new Bill of Rights.

Other News

  • ExxonMobil is building a 50 mile oil pipeline from Southampton to provide aviation fuel to Heathrow airport. Activists along the route have been risking arrest, fines and imprisonment and some have been occupying tunnels in Surrey to stop work on the project.
  • Drill or Drop? reports on climate campaigner Sarah Finch and her three-year legal challenge over oil extraction in Surrey. Finch feels “vindicated” following the hearing being granted at the UK’s highest court. The hearing will be held at the Supreme Court next year and will focus on the Environmental Impact Regulations.


Do let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, remember to subscribe on YouTube, and please consider donating to help us carry on our work and bring you this newsletter.