Defeated in 2015 by a coalition led by Maithripala Sirisena, who promised to reform the economy and break with Sri Lanka’s history of human rights abuses, nepotism and corruption, the Rajapaksas are set to fight this election on the populist staples of security, ethnicity and religion. It is a vote that could profoundly shape the direction of Sri Lanka’s politics, as the clan works to establish an immovable political dynasty, threatening to unwind more than four years of democratic progress.
“We are presently witnessing a whirlwind of activities in the lead up to Presidential Elections due on 16th November with an unprecedented number of candidates and election hype. It was in this midst that we marked the six months anniversary of the devastating Easter Sunday attacks which claimed over 250 lives, injured many more and resulted in cycles of ethno-religious violence. Two days after, the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) appointed to examine these attacks released its hard-hitting 272-page report. Having made initial comments on the findings of the PSC report on Twitter on the day of its release, this article builds on some key threads. It is further informed by a recent visit to the North and East of Sri Lanka where the ground realities speak to the complexities and challenges.”
Sri Lanka’s election commission has said it will censor the political coverage of a state-owned TV station after accusing it of bias against the former president’s brother, who is running in the country’s upcoming presidential election.
The unprecedented move came after the Independent Television Network (ITN) aired a programme alleging loyalists to the previous government had thwarted a corruption probe into the family of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Six months after they were violently forced out of their homes, there has been no police investigations into and no accountability for the threats and violence faced by refugees and asylum-seekers in Sri Lanka, Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group International said in a new report published today.
In a show of strength and solidarity, five Tamil parties in Sri Lanka recently came together and put down their expectations of presidential candidates seeking their support in the November 16 election.
This October marks the 29th anniversary of the exodus of Northern Muslims forcibly driven from their traditional homeland by the LTTE.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The front-runner in Sri Lanka’s presidential campaign promised that he will rehabilitate and release all military personnel accused of abuses in the country’s civil war, according to a campaign manifesto released Friday.
A monk’s cremation on a temple’s premises, in violation of a court order, has triggered protests.
The recent passing away of a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka and his subsequent cremation in the northern district of Mullaitivu has brought to the fore an old concern — the power wielded by the Buddhist clergy and the impunity shielding them. It wasn’t the monk’s cremation that was the problem, it was the site.
On Monday, a group of saffron-robed men, led by controversial monk Gnanasara Thero (in picture) of the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), gathered near the Neeravi Pillaiyar Kovil (temple) well in Mullaitivu, even as their supporters swiftly made arrangements for the cremation to be held there. They completed the final rites, defying a court order barring it on the temple’s premises. Around noon the same day, the Mullaitivu magistrate court had ruled that the cremation be held by the sea, near the Army camp facing the temple.
“When I returned from the court to the temple, I was shocked to see the monks going ahead with the cremation there, despite the court ruling against it. There were some 40 bhikkhus (monks) and maybe around 200 supporters with them,” said Kanagarathinam Sugash, attorney-at-law, who appeared for the temple administration in the case.
As the news spread, several locals — mostly Hindu Tamils — gathered around the temple in protest. “When I tried to draw the monks’ attention to the court order, one of them, speaking in broken Tamil, turned very aggressive towards me and told me — ‘This is a Sinhala Buddhist country and monks come first, they are above all’,” recalled Mr. Sugash, who was assaulted in the ensuing clash. The Jaffna-based lawyer found the monk’s remarks most telling. “He [the monk] was effectively telling me that monks are above the courts, above law and order.”
Since the end of its three-decade long civil war in 2009 and with the help of India, Sri Lanka has been upgrading the Jaffna peninsula’s Kankesanthurai harbour and the adjacent air field Palali, which played a crucial role for the Sri Lankan air force to air-drop relief supplies during the brutal conflict, when supply lines to Jaffna were often cut off by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
In the wake of a heightening contest for presidential candidacy within the ruling United National Party (UNP), deputy leader and Minister Sajith Premadasa on Tuesday said the party must hold a “secret ballot” to choose the most-preferred contender.
COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s top court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa to dismiss corruption charges against him, in a possible blow to the frontrunnner’s candidacy.
Commenting on the prospects for power devolution to Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, Leader of Opposition and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has made a reference to the current “situation in Kashmir.”
Ahilan Kadirgamar on the danger the return of the Rajapaksas portends to democracy and how that return could be stalled.
“With the current conjuncture of geopolitical instability and the emergence of authoritarian regimes around the world, the conditions seem worryingly conducive for a Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime. The convergence of retired military actors, an extractive business lobby, a nationalist bureaucracy and an organised chauvinistic base, when combined with state power, spell danger not just of authoritarian nationalism but a fascist takeover of the state. It is democracy that is at risk, and ironically, it is elections that might pave the route to shutting down that democratic space. The return of the Rajapaksa oligarchy can be stopped by only a united stand of the fractured democratic forces.”
Sri Lanka’s Easter attacks that killed more than 250 people were carried out by local groups who drew inspiration from, but were not directly linked to, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group, a Sri Lankan investigator has said.
Scores of Sri Lankan refugees living in various camps in Virudhunagar district on Monday submitted separate petitions seeking Indian citizenship to Collector A. Sivagnanam.
Stating that they had lived most pat of their life in India, the refugees said they did not have the economic wherewithal to set up their life and livelihood on returning to the island nation.
Over 3,200 refugees, who fled their war-torn nation in 1990s, live in seven refugee camps in the district.
On Monday, they came en masse to the Collectorate with a petition containing the single demand after Friday’s Madras High Court order permitting 65 Tamils from Sri Lanka to submit fresh application for citizenship to the the Collector concerned.