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Behind the Rajapaksa brothers’ smiles

August 9, 2009

The Economist : Behind the Rajapaksa brothers’ smiles
Sri Lanka’s government is wildly popular for its military victory. It should put this to more productive, less brutal, use

AFTER human excrement was dumped outside his house two years ago, M.A. Sumanthiran, a Sri Lankan human-rights lawyer, put up security cameras. He had won a ruling to stop the eviction of hundreds of Tamil migrants from Colombo and the enemies he made then have not gone away. In January, after Lasantha Wickrematunge, a journalist investigating high-level corruption and other abuses, was gunned down in Sri Lanka’s biggest city, Mr Sumanthiran hired bodyguards.

Now, he is in yet more trouble. Last month an article on the defence ministry’s website identified him and four other lawyers as “traitors in black coats”. Their crime was to be representing Mr Wickrematunge’s newspaper, the Sunday Leader, in a contempt-of-court case related to two libel suits filed by the defence secretary and president’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. The defence ministry’s article wrongly claimed that Mr Sumanthiran, a Tamil, was known for defending members of the Tamil Tigers, the rebel group routed by the army in May. Quoting unnamed lawyers, the article said it was traitorous and unethical to “oppose a national hero like the secretary of defence, with whose unwavering commitment and focus Sri Lanka is a free country today.”
Read full article here.

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