“We’re watching you,” warns Amnesty International in a video to Gotabaya Rajapaksa and other leaders around the world, who are using the coronavirus outbreak to crack down on civil liberties.
“Leaders who threaten human rights are using a pandemic to expand and abuse their powers instead of focusing on helping doctors and nurses," said the video. "To those leaders: we’re watching you.”
Commenting on the president’s recent pardon of Sunil Rathnayake, a Sri Lankan soldier, the rights group said that “releasing war criminals won’t solve a health crisis.”
Rathnayake was sentenced to death in 2015 for the murder of the 8 Tamils, including 3 children, in the town of Mirusuvil. The Tamils had been arrested by Sri Lankan security forces on the10th of December 2000. The following day their bodies were found in a mass grave with their throats slashed, according to the District Medical Officer’s post-mortem report. All but two of the bodies had been stripped naked. The youngest to have been murdered was a 5-year-old child.
Following his release, Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International's Regional Director for South Asia said: "Where accountability is so rare for serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka, the government’s arbitrary decision to release Sergeant Rathnayake sends an extremely worrying message. It means that military perpetrators of horrific crimes, even if convicted through a court of law, will be pardoned and released.”
See full video here.