Sri Lanka's descent to dictatorship
[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 July 2012, 21:03 GMT]
"...three years after the war ended, human rights groups and opposition leaders warn that the country is descending toward dictatorship, with dissent brutally crushed, the media cowed and the minority Tamils, whose insurrection caused the war in the first place, still treated like second-class citizens," Washington Post said in the Friday edition, adding, "[a]s the scorched earth campaign entered its final stages in 2009, it cost tens of thousands of lives – a U.N. report called for an investigation into war crimes by both sides, accusing the Tigers of using civilians as human shields and the Sri Lankan military of indiscriminate shelling and denying civilians access to humanitarian aid."
Noting that "the disappearances of government opponents are perhaps the most obvious manifestation of a regime gone wrong," the paper said, "[t]his year, 52 people have gone missing in the south of the country."
The paper adds, "[a]fter a thumping election victory in 2010, Rajapaksa changed the constitution not only to increase his powers over the police, judiciary and civil service, but also to end the two-term limit for the presidency. He then arrested his opponent in the elections, Sarath Fonseka, and jailed him for two years.
"The president’s brother Gotabhaya runs the security apparatus and parts of the economy through the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development; another brother, Basil, heads the Ministry of Economic Development, and a third is parliamentary speaker. Other close family members serve as ambassadors or chief ministers, while a nephew runs the state airline. Corruption, business leaders and lawyers say, is at an all-time high," the Washington Post said.
The paper noted in conclusion that "despite the challenges, diplomats and officials said the United States and India are determined to remain engaged with Sri Lanka. Neither country wants Sri Lanka to follow Burma’s path into increasing isolation from the West, or to push it more deeply into China’s embrace, the officials say."