Rajapaksas Turn Sri Lanka into a Family Affair
Democracy in increasing danger as military takes over
By: Salman Rafi Sheikh
The Rajapaksa regime in Sri Lanka has degenerated into family rule with deep roots in Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, an ideology that thrives on an extreme form of xenophobia and sees ethnic minorities as secondary citizens who must only be politically subordinate.
While the Sri Lankan state’s ethno-majoritarian identity is not new, its specific properties have undergone significant changes under the Rajapkasas. In the past two years, the state’s shift towards ethno-majoritarianism has developed two new and retrogressive features: ethnocracy and militarization. Sri Lanka, as one Colombo-based observer of politics described it, is increasingly a Rajapaksa family-dominated polity supported by Sinhalese-controlled state institutions, especially the military, serving and protecting the political and economic interests of the country’s Sinhala-Buddhist majority at the expense of democracy and even peace.
Apart from four Rajapaksa brothers, including the current Prime Minister Mahinda and the current President Gotabaya, a number of other family members including the 35-year-old son of Mahinda, Namal, have ministerial posts, running the country as a family business…