Minorities in Sri Lanka Concerned by the Return of Rajapaksa Rule
11/19/2019 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – Religious and ethnic minorities across Sri Lanka have been left concerned by the return of Rajapaksa rule. On Saturday, November 16, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former Defense Secretary from 2005 to 2015, was voted in as the country’s new president.
Leaning heavily on a nationalist message, Rajapaksa was elected by the country’s majority Sinhala Buddhists. “We knew right from the beginning that the Sinhala Buddhists of this country will be behind my victory,” Rajapaksa told cheering crowds after his victory was announced. “Although I knew I would be voted in by the Sinhala Buddhists, I expected the Tamils and Muslims to also be part of my victory. But my expectations were not met.”
Sri Lanka’s religious and ethnic communities have been left concerned by the return of Rajapaksa rule. From 2005 to 2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya’s older brother, oversaw a regime in which attacks on religious and ethnic minorities were common.
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a radical Buddhist nationalist group, was alleged to have the protection of the previous Rajapaksa regime. Many minorities fear that the radical group will once again be given a free hand to attack religious minority communities.
“I found our new president’s opening remarks chilling,” MZA Ahmed, a social worker from eastern Sri Lanka told the Independent. “The minority communities in the east, Muslims as well as Tamils and Christians, voted against the return of the Rajapaksas. Now we wonder, will we be punished for it?”
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