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Sri Lanka’s coronavirus response to ‘popularise the military interventions for future political gains of the President’

Sri Lanka’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak was “primarily designed to promote the military and to popularise the military interventions for future political gains of the President,” the Alliance of Independent Professionals (AIP) said.

In their statement, the AIP stated that the Sri Lankan government had militarised what should have been a public health response. Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) clashed with the military as General Shavendra Silva, accused war criminal, was appointed to lead the overall response.

Read more: Shavendra Sillva- 'the most wanted man in Sri Lanka'

“A committee headed by Basil Rajapaksa, comprising of, among others, the military leadership is vested with the authority to deal with essential supplies, which can provide major leverage during the forthcoming election,” the statement added.

Sri Lanka’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has also used the pandemic to pardon a war criminal, Sunil Rathnayake, who was sentenced to death over the massacre of eight Tamil civilians, including three children. The AIP stated that once his pardon was granted, “the military escorted him back to his residence and gave him 20 years of back wages as a cash payment (compensation).”

Read more: Sri Lanka pardons soldier imprisoned over massacre of Tamils

“President Rajapaksa in his campaign pledged that once he becomes President, he would release all military officials who were arrested and charged with any crimes, calling the accusations ‘absurd’.”

Moreover, the AIP criticised the government as it “has not followed any legal framework in its drive against Covid-19 in Sri Lanka.”

“The country is in under lockdown and under curfew. However, neither lockdown nor curfew has been imposed in terms of any legal provision. Neither Section 16 of the Public Security Ordinance, which permits the imposition of curfew nor any Emergency Regulations have been activated or brought into force. The Constitution mandates that such steps would automatically trigger the summoning of Parliament.”

Read their full statement at Sri Lanka Brief.

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