|“||I am definitely not threatening your lives. Our services are appreciated by 99 per cent of the people. They love the Army Commander and the Army. There are Sri Lankan patriots who love us do and will do what is required if necessary.||„|
|~ Gotabaya Rajapaksa after being asked by two journalists if he is threatening them.|
Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, commonly known as Gotabaya Rajapaksa (born 20 June 1949) is a Sri Lankan politician and the eighth and incumbent president of Sri Lanka, having been sworn in on 18 November 2019 following his victory in the 2019 Sri Lankan presidential election. Despite numerous crimes having been committed by Rajapaksa, he is popular in Sri Lanka due to his military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the Sri Lankan civil war, ending in the death of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009. However, this victory is controversial due to reports of War crimes committed under Rajapaksa's direction, such as orders allegedly given by Rajapaksa for troops to kill any LTTE members who attempted to surrender towards the end of the war, and the deliberate shelling of civilian targets such as hospitals, the latter of which was defended by Rajapaksa on the grounds that "everything is a legitimate target if it is not within the safe zone the government has created". Some commentators have even accused Rajapaksa's actions against Tamil civilians of being a genocide.
Rajapaksa has been accused of threatening and imposing state censorship on journalists on several occasions, including telling two journalists attached to the state-owned Lake House Publications that unless they stop criticising the armed forces "what will happen to you is beyond my control". When asked by the two journalists if he was threatening them, he replied "I am definitely not threatening your lives. Our services are appreciated by 99 per cent of the people. They love the Army Commander and the Army. There are Sri Lankan patriots who love us do and will do what is required if necessary." In April 2007 he was accused of allegedly calling the Editor of the Daily Mirror Champika Liyanaarachchi and threatening her, saying that she would escape reprisals only if she resigned. He was also accused of threatening to "exterminate" the Daily Mirror journalist Uditha Jayasinghe for writing articles about the plight of civilian war casualties. A story from The New York Times also quoted his news reporting position as "he insists that journalists should not be allowed to report anything that demoralizes the war effort"
Deceased MP Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, assassinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge and others had accused Rajapaksa of corruption since 2006. In 2015 Interpol provided further evidence to the Sri Lankan government on corrupt military procurements. In March 2015 a Sri Lankan court imposed a travel ban on Rajapaksa over allegations he used a commercial floating armoury as a private arsenal. The travel ban was lifted by the court on December 2016. UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera claimed that Gotabaya's son illegally occupied a house rented for a consulate in Los Angeles and caused millions of rupees in losses to the state. Rajapaksa rejected the allegations regarding occupying a house rented for a consulate in LA.
During Rajapaksa's political career, many critics of him and his policies have been abducted and never seen again, such as journalist Keith Noyahr, who was kidnapped by two men in a white van in 2008. A few weeks after Noyahr's abduction, journalist Namal Perera was attacked by the same men, who attempted to abduct him, but he was saved by the intervention of local residents. Several government critics have also been murdered allegedly on Rajapaksa's orders, most notably journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was shot and killed on 8 January 2009 while on his way to testify against Rajapaksa during a court hearing about his corruption. Sri Lankan human rights activist Nadarajah Raviraj was also assassinated on 10 November 2006, and state police official Liyanarachchi Abeyrathna later claimed that Rajapaksa had paid terrorist leader Colonel Karuna to order the assassination of Mr. Raviraj. Investigations into the killings and disappearances of critics of the Rajapaksa government suggest that Gotabaya Rajapaksa directed a Death squad to attack journalists and human rights activists, resulting in the deaths and disappearances of many.