COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lankan torture victims have filed 10 new claims for damages in a U.S. court against wartime defense chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, lawyers for the plaintiffs and a rights group said, possibly jeopardizing his plan to run for president.
“This report came out of a community driven survey conducted in 2016 and has now emerged as a crucial document that both presents the first evidence of Caste discrimination in the US and helps to map the internal hegemonies within our communities. It also provides insight into how the South Asian community balances the experiences of living under white supremacy while replicating Caste, anti-Dalitness, and anti-Blackness.
As the South Asian American community, we are uniquely situated to redeem the errors of history as well as set the tone for a progressive conversation around Caste, both here and in countries of origin.”
For the ex-president, the election battle “is a fight for political survival,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo. “Rajapaksa Inc., the dynastic project, can’t stay out of power too long or it risks destruction.”
“I want to speak briefly about recent developments in Sri Lanka where the new government of President Maithrapala Sirisena has taken several important and encouraging steps to promote good governance, human rights and reconciliation since his election on January 8th.”
Asserting that there is a “threat” to national security, Sri Lanka’s opposition today asked the government to act urgently over a US report which said that the LTTE’s international network and funding was intact.
John Kerry’s visit to Sri Lanka, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in 11 years, recognizes country’s geopolitical importance. It also highlights the outcome of the recent tussle over the island state by two emerging global powers. This is a contest in which India has now gained the upper hand over China, offering important lessons for rising powers as they begin a “Great Game” in Asia.
A senior U.S. diplomat pledged support for the new Sri Lankan government’s plans for political and economic reforms, as the two countries try to rebuild relations that had frayed as the previous administration moved closer to China.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former defense secretary, oversaw the Sri Lankan armed forces’ worst atrocities during the final stages of the civil war and, as it happens, he is a naturalized American citizen. (Indeed, he used to live in Los Angeles, where he worked as a computer systems operator at Loyola Law School.)
As a citizen, Mr. Rajapaksa can be held liable under the War Crimes Act of 1996, which puts war crimes anywhere in the world under the jurisdiction of United States courts if the perpetrator, or the victim, is a United States citizen. Put another way, the United States has a perfect justification to go after Mr. Rajapaksa individually.
“The new Sri Lankan president, Maithripala Sirisena, has a chance to make some changes, but only if he can keep an uncertain coalition together. Resetting relations with Delhi and Washington will be an important part of this – and his country’s friends need to give him some space.”
Senior leaders from U.S. 7th Fleet visited Colombo, Sri Lanka and Male, Maldives and attended the Galle Dialogues international Maritime Conference Dec. 1-6, building relationships to improve maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific.
“The Obama administration has taken the lead internationally to promote accountability in Sri Lanka. The principal focus is on war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country’s decades long civil war. But those efforts are also important to addressing the situation of Tamil, Muslim, and Christian minorities in Sri Lanka today.”
“Here I highlight the various laws that might assist the Justice Department and other agencies in prosecuting US citizen, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In another post back in May, I described some of the evidence in the public record about his alleged involvement in mass war crimes—for which the US government is interested in seeking accountability.”
The U.S. Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka held a hearing on July 9 in Washington, D.C. The caucus, created in 2013, is co-chaired by Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). It remains to be seen how effective this newly created group will be but — given the recent developments in Sri Lanka — there is no question that there was plenty to discuss at the gathering.