Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, seen here campaigning for the 2015 presidential election in Colombo, is distrusted by many Tamils. (ucanews.com photo)
Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa's stunning victory in local government elections has reopened old wounds for Tamil war victims. The landslide win for his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party has disturbed Tamils seeking the whereabouts of relatives who disappeared during Rajapaksa's regime. Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005 to 2015, presided over the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE), putting a brutal end to a 26-year civil war in 2009. He remains popular among large sections of Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community but is generally distrusted by many Tamil minorities. The Rajapaksa regime resisted calls for accountability for war crimes that took place during the civil war, with the UN estimating that as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final stages of the conflict.
, a Tamil activist and provincial minister, said the SLPP's election victory was a threat to human rights. "We see this as a victory for extremism," said Sasitharan, whose husband was forcibly disappeared near the end of the war in 2009. "The Rajapaksa regime always suppressed Tamils, violated human rights and prevented justice for rights violations and war crimes." Kasipillai Jeyavanitha, leader of the Forum for Forcibly Disappeared Relatives in Vavuniya, said the Rajapaksa regime was responsible for many disappeared people. "We haven't got justice even eight years after the war ended, but we pressure him continuously," said Jeyavanitha. "He should answer for our disappeared relatives because we handed over our children into the hands of the military during his regime." Father Jeyabalan Croos of Mannar Diocese, a Tamil human rights activist, said the UN called a hybrid court to investigate allegations of war crimes. "The U.S. later co-sponsored a resolution against war crimes with the government, but no justice was given to our Tamil people," he said. Relatives of disappeared people
are continuing to protest to find their loved ones. In the local government elections, Rajapaksa's SLPP, formed only in 2016, took 44.65 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) won 32.63 percent of the vote, while President Maithripala Sirisena's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) came a distant third with only 13.38 percent.
Support UCA News...
UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.
UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.
Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.
As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.