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‘Sri Lanka’s Tamils fear discrimination under new President’

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Sri Lanka’s Tamils who are “concentrated in the country’s north say the area still suffers from a lack of development, despite promises by its new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,” Charles Stratford reports for Al Jazeera.

A decade on from the end of the armed conflict, “government promises of investment have all failed to materialise.”

Gotabaya is “deeply distrusted” by Tamils due to his role as the Defence Secretary in 2009, where he oversaw the military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils.

“Tamils voted overwhelmingly against Rajapaksa in the November election and are trying to come to terms with the result.”

There has “been little investment here. The Northern districts are the smallest contributor to Sri Lanka’s economy. Employment is 15 per cent in some areas, almost 10 per cent higher than in the South.”

Gotabaya has been promising investment and infrastructure “as a means of helping reconciliation efforts but analysts say that it is going to take a lot more than money to forger trust and agreement over a potential lasting solution.”

“Around 20,000 others, mostly Tamils, are still missing and their families say not enough support is given to those still traumatised by the war.”

“Successive government have refused to implement devolution of power with respect to political and land rights as specified in the country’s constitution.”

Speaking to Stratford, Ahilan Kadargama, a political analyst, told him that if the government wishes to build trust, development must come with devolution “where they give the onus of development to the local population.”

Watch the full video report here.