Through the Lens: Life and Politics in Asia | Politics | Society | South Asia

The Shrinking Space for Minorities and Dissent in Sri Lanka

An interview with activist Ruki Fernando on Gotabaya’s presidency.

By Harshita Rathore and Vishal Arora for

Ethnic and religious minorities, mainly Muslims and Tamil Hindus, as well as civil society groups remain fearful since the presidential election in Sri Lanka last November. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, locally known as Gota, is the first head of the government of the island nation to win an election solely with votes from the ethnic majority Sinhalese Buddhist community, making Muslims, Christians, and Tamil Hindus nervous. Gota, along with his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, was accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the military defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, during which an estimated 40,000 civilians were killed. At the time, Mahinda was the president and Gota his defense secretary.

In this video interview, Sri Lankan activist Ruki Fernando explains why the majority voted for Gota and outlines the major concerns of the minorities.