In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic provided additional cover for a regressive turn in Sri Lankan politics. The consequences of economic and political crisis became starkly evident shortly before the year ended as the hold of the Rajapaksa family on the Sri Lankan state tightened.
So argues Dr Shyamika Jayasundara-Smits in her article published in East Asia Forum.
The pandemic as an excuse to silence dissenting voices
While alleged war criminals continue to enjoy impunity, the regime clamped down on freedom of expression, harassing and intimidating journalists and expanding the use of draconian laws, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
She argues that the government used the pandemic as an excuse to silence dissenting voices and clamp down on protests. These included mothers in the North seeking justice for lost children, youth protesting the privatization and militarization of higher education (the KNDU Bill) and farmers protesting overnight import bans on chemical fertilizers.
Read the full article on the East Asia Forum website - 'The Rajapaksa family's tightening grip on Sri Lanka', East Asia Forum, 29 January 2022
Image details: Basil Rajapaksa being sworn in as Sri Lanka's Minister of Finance by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and in the presence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.