(The article was originally published in Newschecker Hindi by Shubham Singh)
A video showing a group of men partially stripped and seemingly pleading in front of a mob is going viral on social media platforms. Those who shared it claimed that the men seen in the video were ministers of the crisis-hit Sri Lankan cabinet, who fell prey to public rage over the economic situation in the country. Newschecker found the claim to be untrue.
The video is going the rounds on Twitter with a claim to show Sri Lankan ministers.
Newschecker also received the video on our WhatsApp tipline (+91- 9999499044 ) requesting to be fact checked.
Sri Lanka is witnessing the worst economic crisis since its independence from Britain in 1948. In April, several people took to the streets to protest against the rising prices and shortages in the country’s capital city Colombo and soon spread across the country, forcing the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign. Following which Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed as the new PM of the embattled country. Wickremesinghe recently warned that the financial crisis engulfing the country will get worse and “the next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives”.
To verify the veracity of the claim that semi naked men seen in viral video are Sri Lankan ministers or not, Newschecker conducted a keyword search for ‘Sri Lanka Protest’ on Twitter and found that the video was shared by user ‘@mdlucias’ on May 10, 2022 with the caption, “We are prisoners. Jailer Ramanayake who brought us here. He brought us saying there is an important program. But we don’t know anything (Sic).” It added, “It was reported that prisoners were brought yesterday (10) to attack the protesters at #GotaGoGama.”
Another tweet by news outlet Daily Mirror, dated May 10, 2022, featured the same video with the caption, “It was reported that prisoners were brought today (10) to attack the protesters at #GotaGoGama.”
Newschecker also reached out to Thanujah Nagarajah, a journalist with Columbo based newspaper Virakesari, who confirmed to us that the men seen in the video were not ministers. Nagarajah said, “Men seen in the viral video are not ministers. They are prisoners who are saying that they were brought to Colombo to attack the protestors. They are speaking in Sinhalese.”
We also found a report in The Print, dated May 12, 2022, which read, “An investigation has been launched by Sri Lanka’s jail authorities on the allegations that a group of inmates from a prison camp in the island nation were used to attack anti-government protesters in Colombo this week, according to a media report on Thursday.”
The report also cited an article in News First website that quoted the Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya saying that a probe has been launched on the claims that a group of inmates from the Watareka Open Prison Camp were brought to attack anti-government protesters in Colombo.
The viral claim that the semi-naked men seen in the video are Sri Lankan ministers is not true. The men seen in the video are prison inmates.
Result: Misleading Content/Partly False
Tweet by Lucias on May 10, 2022
Tweet by Daily Mirror on May 10, 2022
Telephonic Conversation with Srilankan Journalist Thanujah Nagarajah On May 17, 2022
Report Published by The Print on May 12, 2022
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