sri lanka under rajapaksa

Mahindarajapakshe_0Sadakat Kadri at the London Review of Books:

The problem is that Rajapaksa, for all his eagerness to seize the Commonwealth’s helm, has spent years undermining those values and principles. Though democratically elected, he has relied on his popular mandate to sidestep or get rid of all the safeguards that ordinarily stop democrats from turning into demagogues. Soon after winning his second presidential term, he abolished a law that would have prevented him standing for a third; two of his brothers, Basil and Gotabaya, head powerful ministries, while another one, Chamal, has become the speaker of parliament. His government refuses to acknowledge, let alone investigate, allegations of serious official misconduct: the claim, for example, that the Defence Ministry, run by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, bundles away – ‘white-vans’ – those it perceives as opponents in unmarked white vehicles. There is compelling evidence that tens of thousands of civilians died during the army’s final onslaught against the Tigers; and according to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, Sri Lanka has more citizens who have vanished without trace than any other country except Iraq. Free expression has suffered as much as all this suggests, with at least 22 outspoken journalists killed over the last seven years, all of them murdered by unidentified persons who remain at large. And the situation is not improving. The UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay reported last August that ‘surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse… Critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced.’

more here.