Breaking The Cycle
Tavish Gunasena (Sri Lankan)

In 2022, Sri Lankan citizens came together in the midst of their worst economic crisis to peacefully protest for change. They were tired of being oppressed. They wanted their leader, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, gone. In what was once a country of silenced voices, they now swelled in chorus - ‘Gota go home!’ Words which were once impossible to utter, now became commonplace. The island citizens were casting off the shackles of fear that bound their hands and tied their tongues. They were not afraid any longer and were now speaking in numbers. United. Speaking truth to power. A communal village was set up outside the gates of the Presidential Secretariat. It was called GotaGoGama (GGG) or Gota-Go-Village. It consisted of citizens from all walks of life reclaiming public space and reutilizing it for peaceful demonstration. There was a legal aid truck providing free legal advice to protestors. There were mul- tiple medical tents set up providing free healthcare to patients. There was a cinema, a library, a food bank to feed anyone going hungry. There were plants grown, and cricket played. There was an art gallery and a stage for plays and speeches. A co-op providing groceries to those in need. All this right in the heart of the city in one of Co- lombo’s most loved public forums, Galle Face Green. It was a public display of unity amongst Sri Lankans from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, despite the divisive rhetoric and tactics historically used by those at the top to create tensions and unrest between social groups. The protests would bring together people of all communities and ultimately lead to the resignation of the Presi- dent, despite his party’s best efforts to sabotage the movement. The following pages show the events I bore witness to from the beginnings of GGG to Gotabaya’s resignation.


Tavish Gunasena is a photographer from Colombo, Sri Lanka. His work is centred around humans, and their entanglement with their natural, built and virtual environments. His work has been published internationally in print. He has exhibited in Dhaka at the Pathshala institute, in Toronto at Maximum Exposure, part of Contact Festival., and twice at Arles (2022-23). He was also selected for Pathshala institute's year long mentorship program 'New Waves of Documentary, Practice as Research.'