20 May, 2022

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Sri Lanka: Minorities, Activists Targeted – Actions Contradict Pledges Of Legal Reform

The Sri Lankan government in 2021 suppressed minority communities, harassed activists, and undermined democratic institutions, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2022. The government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa failed to carry out legal reforms promised to its international partners and blocked accountability for grave violations, including past war crimes.

“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seems determined to reverse past rights improvements and protect those implicated in serious abuses,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “While promising reforms and justice to deflate international criticism, his administration has stepped up suppression of minority communities.”

In the 752-page World Report 2022, its 32nd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Executive Director Kenneth Roth challenges the conventional wisdom that autocracy is ascendent. In country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot, showing that the appeal of democracy remains strong. Meanwhile, autocrats are finding it more difficult to manipulate elections in their favor. Still, he says, democratic leaders must do a better job of meeting national and global challenges and of making sure that democracy delivers on its promised dividends.

The Rajapaksa government has disregarded its own pledges of reform and continued to target minority Tamils and Muslims. The government uses the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the country’s long-abused counterterrorism law, and policies that threaten religious freedom and minority land rights.

In March 2021 the United Nations Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to collect and prepare evidence of grave crimes committed in Sri Lanka for use in future prosecutions. But a resolution before the Sri Lankan parliament would drop human rights investigations begun under the previous administration. Additionally, the Rajapaksa government’s appointment of people with poor rights records to independent bodies, including the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the Office of Missing Persons, have undermined their credibility and independence.

Throughout the year, Sri Lankan security forces harassed and threatened human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and the families of victims of past abuses, and suppressed peaceful protests. Security agencies, including the police Terrorism Investigation Division, intrusively monitored and intimidated civil society groups and interfered in their funding sources on the pretext of combatting “terrorist financing.”

In June the European Parliament passed a resolution deploring the Sri Lankan government’s intensifying repression. The European Commission engaged in human rights talks with the government in which it renewed pledges to reform the Prevention of Terrorism Act. An assessment of Sri Lanka’s human rights record and its eligibility for continued trading privileges that are contingent upon respect for human rights, is expected from the commission in early 2022.

The government struggled to protect people from Covid-19 as cases surged several times throughout the year, which contributed to widespread economic distress, but a military-controlled response to the pandemic led to further serious rights violations. The police killed at least three people while purportedly enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations. (HRW)

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    “The Rajapaksa government has disregarded its own pledges of reform and continued to target minority Tamils and Muslims.”
    Rajapaksa Family government take different pledges & promises within family and outside family. Their pledge to share most of Sri lanka within their family and rest with their followers and their international friends China, India and USA. The outside public pledges are just to cheat Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities. Their real face is real _____.

  • 11
    1

    We don’t need a report to tell us what the Rajapaksas have done to the minority, and the media, but this report is a good thing, as it brings into focus the Rajapaksa regime’s vindictive policies of discrimination, their refusal to comply with the international community, and basically showing their racism and anti democratic policies. For a country that is struggling economically, and desperately looking for aid and help, Nandasena and his band of corrupt men and women, have only made it harder for the people in this country to get the help they desperately need internationally. Only China who already owns us will be impressed with this report, and how the Rajapaksas rule, as it is similar to their policies too.

    Maybe they should now open out those off shore bank accounts and use those ill gotten gains to help this country, but they don’t give a damn. Sri Lanka is another perfect example of leaders using religion as a tool, to get into power, and use the majority, to keep them there, by discriminating the minority, and implementing racist policies.

    The Rajapaksa regime has brought nothing but embarrassment and shame to this country.

    • 1
      8

      Ashan,
      “The Rajapaksa regime has brought nothing but embarrassment and shame to this country.”
      —-
      Cannot expect praise from guys suffering from ‘Defeat-Syndrome’.
      —-
      Rajapakshes did not bring embarrassment and shame to Sinhale/Sri Lanka. By giving leadership to eliminate Tamil terrorists who were considered as the deadliest terrorists in the world and bragged that they cannot be defeated militarily, Rajapakshes showed to the world that Sinhale has one of the best Armed Forces in the world.
      Unfortunately, those who are jealous of the achievements of Rajapakshes and the Armed Forces are trying to discredit them by fabricating war crimes charges.

      It was Tamil terrorists who brought embarrassment and shame to Sinhale/Sri Lanka. Because of Tamil terrorism, travelling with a Sri Lanka Passport became a nightmare.

  • 1
    2

    Stockholm Syndrome!

    Still want to live under Sinhala rule and not in their own nations within the island. What else do you expect!

    • 0
      5

      GATAM,
      “Still want to live under Sinhala rule…”

      Those who are not happy to live with Sinhalayo can use the ‘Saloon Door’.
      Indigenous Sinhalayo did not invite them or forcing them to stay if they are not happy.

  • 7
    0

    Despite the severe hardships, Rajapakse hardliners continue to be in denial. To them, the Rajapakses are the saviours of the Sinhala race & Buddhism, which is of primary importance, more than the economic situation of the country.

    Hitler’s strategy for gaining power was by stirring up nationalistic emotions depicting the German race as superior to others & blaming the Jewish minorities for the country’s misfortunes. He showed 2 fingers to the world with his aggressive fascist policies & the rest is, as it’s said, is history. Seems Hitler is a role model for SL & without hardly any resistance from opposition, the less educated & misguided in SL are blind to the continuing deterioration of the country.

    Until every man on the street & village peasant is able to see through the Sinhala Buddhist rhetoric & change their mindset, SL doesn’t give a monkey’s to world opinion & blame the ‘West’ for ‘interfering’, its significance in terms of aid, investment & trade is beyond comprehension for most, so, can we ever come out of this hole we have dug for ourselves?

  • 0
    4

    “The Rajapaksa government has disregarded its own pledges of reform and continued to target minority Tamils and Muslims.”
    —-
    Targeting minorities, discriminating minorities, marginalizing minorities. Very easy way to tarnish the image of the Government and mislead the International Community.
    If Rajapakshe Government is targeting Tamils and Muslims how the hell Tamils and Muslims keep on flocking to Colombo instead of fleeing away from Colombo. I do not think a single Tamil or Muslim family left Colombo after this Government came to power because they were targeted by the Government.

  • 2
    9

    It is the minorities who have threatened the majority from every angle and engaged in unconcianable brutal acts in the recent memory.
    Tamil racism created a rutheless monster who invented and perfected suicide bombing , used against civilian tergets and political leaders with no compunction which in comparison made ISIS looking like child’s play. They had rich resources outside in terms of numbers (80 million), finances , weaponry and propaganda backed by tacit approval of Western countries whose interests these organisations like HRW represent. Finally when this terror outfit acquired some airpower with suicide pilots the very country which initially trained , armed and financed the outfit and who had their vital nuclear facilities across the sea realised the magnitude of the monster they had created.
    Pushed against the wall it is in this background that the majority reacted for survival. Human rights violated? May be.
    Laws of arrest and detention of terror suspects were harsh? Yes.
    Are they still harsh ? Somewhat.
    Do we need them? YES.
    .
    Now the second ‘minority’ of 1.9 billion.
    Heads swollen with oil money they are an acknowledged threat to civilised way of life everywhere.
    In Sri Lanka Islamic fundamentalists had no pretentions.

    • 1
      3

      Contd…
      They wanted to look different, changed their attire from head to toe and became a greater threat to other minorities even more than towards the majority. Pooling their money suplimented with Saudi funding they would out bid all others in land and business acquisition.
      IN ONE GO THEY PUT THE TAMIL TERROR OF 30 YEARS TO SHAME.
      A main economic pillar of the poor country was completely destroyed within a few hours not to mention the death, destruction and sorrow caused to a minority totally outside the political parameters.
      If any one of them was questioned prior to the legendary bomb that would have been loudly denounced as ‘human rights violation’.
      That in my opinion was the reason for our security establishment was not active in pusuit of Islamic activities.
      We can’t afford to be non vigililant anymore.
      .
      Having got batterred to the pulp by our ‘peaceful minorities’
      I DEFEND TOUGH ANTI TERROR LAWS
      in our toolkit for survival.

      Soma

  • 1
    1

    LMAO. Such a poorly written piece! The whole piece is so one sided and totally wacko, showing total disregard for the rights and suffering of the indigenous Sinhalese people and always whining about minorities and minority rights. The indigenous Sinhalese people are harassed by immigrant minority communities like the Tamils and the Muslims on the one side, and the government on the other side. This has been the case for the past 100 years. While all these so-called human rights organizations and the UN are concentrating on the governments abuses and minority rights, the country is going to hell, as one can never ever ignore the rights and wishes of indigenous Sinhalese people of the country.

    • 0
      1

      PTA might need some revisions, but don’t make that an excuse and a weapon to destabilize this country. Tamil terrorists have ruined this country for decades. Now foreign Islamic terrorists have influenced local Muslims and we got the Easter bombings and numerous attacks on Buddhist shrines. PTA is essential to keep the country safe. Discrediting and criticizing and continued attacks on the PTA might result in another Islamic terror attack like the Easter bombings of 2019. Even after the Islamic Easter bombings, without the provisions in the PTA the government couldn’t have taken the necessary steps, like interrogations and entry into premises, arrest (arbitrary as they may be, but necessary) etc and got the situation under control. So stop trying to discredit the PTA. We all can and will suffer under PTA, but it will serve its purpose of keeping the country safe. If Tamils and Muslims think that they can plan and execute all sorts of terrorist attacks on this country and the innocent Sinhalese people, and then turn back and claim to have been unjustly treated, and that they have been arrested under the PTA and say all sorts of ethnic hate stories against the innocent Sinhalese people, they should think again.

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