A joint press release published by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy Sri Lanka (JDS) reports a staggering number of retired and serving military officers being appointed to key administrative posts by President and former army officer Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
A chart included within the report, which outlines the various positions held by the military, shows the militarisation in sectors, including the police, COVID response, the intelligence services, the prisons, foreign policy, airports, seaports, customs, utilities, agriculture, fisheries, land development, wildlife protection, and the Bribery Commission. Among the hired are senior military officials who have been alleged in UN reports to be implicated in alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The military presence across the North-East has led to many Tamil civilians being displaced from their land. The number of military land grabs of Tamil lands, erection of Buddhist viharas in places of Hindu temples and the military-owned businesses operating across the Tamil homeland have substantially increased since the election of the war crimes accused President. As a result, Tamil people’s livelihoods have been largely impaired.
Bashana Abeywardane of JDS expressed concerns over the “unprecedented militarisation” of the state apparatus. He warned that the appointment of some of the war crimes accused individuals into the political and administrative spheres will be irreversible” and that “this will decisively mark the end of the civilian character of the state”.
The executive director of ITJP Yasmin Sooka commented that the intensified militarisation is causing democracy to become “steadily eroded”.
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