May 01, 2021
At the Sathyagraha Premises in Hingurakgoda.
Sathyagraha Halted Temporarily. Struggle Continues.
The Collective of Women Affected by Microfinance Loans commenced a Sathyagraha at the Raja Smarka in Hingurakgoda Gam Udawa on March 08, 2021, by putting forward five demands including the call to abolish all microfinance debt. On the 55th day of the Sathyagraha, we decided to temporarily halt the Sathyagraha and re-orient our struggle through alternative mechanisms as a measure of health precaution of our members and the public in the face of escalating COVID-19 pandemic.
We managed to accomplish many things throughout Sathyagraha through our collective initiatives. Apart from arousing the Government from a false slumber, we also succeeded to unite the whole society in support and solidarity with our struggle. We managed to mobilise many microfinance affected women not only in Polonnaruwa district but all over Sri Lanka and build our organizational capacity and strength. Numerous trade unions, farmers and fishers’ organisations, plantation workers, students and women’s organisations in Sri Lanka, South Asia and all over the world held hands with us in solidarity against predatory microfinance lenders.
We warn the finance companies to stop trying the patience of the people by continuing to exert physical-psychological and sexual violence on women who are entangled in a vicious cycle of odious debt. We will continue to mobilise women against the humanitarian crisis that finance companies are creating by pushing women below the level of subsistence through their attempts to collect the unpayable debt through the judiciary. It’s deplorable that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Government who are bestowed with power and authority to regulate the financial markets and protect financial consumers permit finance companies to extort the people. Moreover, we would like to remind the politicians that we will no longer be deceived by their false promises.
Existing financial mechanisms are not adequate to address our developmental needs. Therefore, our principal task for the future lies in formulating a cooperative like mechanism owned and functioning for the community capable of rekindling our economy. Instead of nurturing dangerous and unethical finance companies, we call all microfinance victims, social activists, and socio-political forces to join hands with us in solidarity with our struggle towards emancipation by challenging the existing socio-economic and political system.