Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

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Gotabaya Rajapaksa
ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.jpg
Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development
Personal details
Born (1949-06-20) June 20, 1949 (age 65)
Matara, Sri Lanka
Spouse(s) Ioma Rajapaksa
Relations Mahinda Rajapaksa (brother)
Basil Rajapaksa (brother)
Chamal Rajapaksa (brother)
Children Manoj Rajapaksa
Alma mater Ananda College
Religion Buddhist
Military service
Allegiance Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Service/branch Sri Lankan Army
Years of service 1971–1992
Rank Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Gajaba Regiment
Commands 1st Gajaba Regiment
General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University
Battles/wars Eelam War I
Eelam War II
Eelam War IV
Awards Rana Wickrama Padakkama
Rana Sura Padakkama
Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa), UoC

Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, RWP, RSP, psc, GR (Sinhala: ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ) (born 20 June 1949) is a retired officer of the Sri Lanka Army, the current Defence Secretary of Sri Lanka and Chairman of Lanka Hospitals. After serving through the early parts of the country's civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels, he retired from the Army in 1992. With the election of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appointed Defence Secretary in November 2005.

As Defence Secretary, Rajapaksa is largely credited for masterminding the successes achieved by the Sri Lankan Military in defeating the Tamil Tigers and ending Sri Lanka's 26-year-long civil war in May 2009 under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was also one of the top targets of the Tamil Tigers, and survived an assassination attempt in December 2006 by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber. He is also accused of war crimes as reportedly ordered the killings of LTTE leaders during the bloodiest domestic civil war, prominent supporter of hardline religious group Buddhist Bodu Bala Sena and often criticised for controlling Sri Lankan media. [1]

Early life[edit]

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was born in Palatuwa in the Matara District,[citation needed] as the 5th of nine siblings and brought up in Weerakatiya in the southern rural district of Hambantota.[citation needed] According to a writer called Narada Karunthilaka, the name Gotabaya means "Abhaya, the Giant" or "Chinna Kotta" in the Jat language.[2] He hails from a well-known political family in Sri Lanka. His father, D. A. Rajapaksa, was a prominent politician, independence agitator, Member of Parliament, Deputy Speaker and Cabinet Minister of Agriculture and Land in Wijeyananda Dahanayake's government. His elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa was first elected to parliament as a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at the age of 24 in 1970, who gradually rose through the party ranks becoming the Leader of the Opposition in 2001, Prime Minister in 2004 and the President of Sri Lanka in 2005. Two of his other elder brothers, Chamal Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, are also in the politics being current Members of Parliament.

He obtained his primary and secondary education at Ananda College, Colombo. He has also obtained a Postgraduate degree in Information Technology from the University of Colombo in 1992.[3]

Military career[edit]

Rajapaksa joined the Sri Lanka Army as a Cadet Officer on April 26, 1971, when Sri Lanka was still a dominion of the British Commonwealth. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on May 25, 1972 and given his first command as an officer in the Ceylon Signals Corps after his basic training at the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa. Thereafter he served with the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment and the Rajarata Rifles before being transferred to the Gajaba Regiment upon its formation in 1983 with the amalgamation of the Rajarata Rifles and Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment.[4]

During his 20 years of military service, Rajapaksa has received awards for gallantry from three Presidents of Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and D.B. Wijetunga.[5] He had followed signal young officers course in school of signals at Rawalpindi; Infantry company commanders course in Queta; Jungle warfare and counter insurgency course in Assam; Command and Staff course at Defence Services Staff College in Welington; and Advanced Infantry Officers course at Fort Benning.

He rose up the ranks in the military, serving as the second in command of the 1st Gajaba Regiment and latter commanding the 1GR from 1983 to 1990. He served in the battlefronts of Jaffna, participating in Operation Liberation, the offensive mounted to liberate Vadamarachi from LTTE in 1987. He also commanded the same battalion in Operation "Strike Hard" and Operation "Thrivida Balaya" in 1990. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and served as the Commandant of the Kotelawala Defence Academy at the time of his retirement in 1992. He subsequently migrated to the United States. Also, he worked in the USA as a Systems Integrator and Unix Solaris Administrator.[6]

Secretary to the Ministry of Defence[edit]

In order to assist his brother's Presidential election campaign, Rajapaksa returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 from the United States.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appointed to the post of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence in November 2005 by newly elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In this capacity he oversaw the military operation which eventually defeated the LTTE in May, 2009 after 25 years of fighting.

At the public acclaim as a "war hero," he was conferred Doctor of Letters by the University of Colombo on September 6, 2009.[7] He is also the secretary to the Urban Development, with the help of the army he undertakes huge projects.

Attempted assassination[edit]

On December 1, 2006, at approximately 10:35 an assassin attempted to drive an explosive laden auto-rikshaw into Rajapaksa's motorcade as it traveled through Kollupitiya, Colombo. The Sri Lanka Army Commandos guarding him obstructed the vehicle carrying the explosives before it reached Rajapakse's vehicle and two commandos were instantly killed. Rajapaksa escaped unhurt.[1] The LTTE were blamed for the attack.[1]

Criticism of UN and western countries[edit]

In June 2007, Rajapaksa was severely critical of the UN in Sri Lanka and of western governments. He accused the UN in Sri Lanka of having been infiltrated by terrorists "for 30 years or so", and as a result the UN was fed incorrect information. He also alleged that Britain and the EU were bullying Sri Lanka, and concluded that Sri Lanka "does not need them", and that they don't provide any significant amount of aid to the country.[8]

Controversies[edit]

War Crimes[edit]

As per wikileaks, General Sarath Fonseka who lead the war against LTTE had accused Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of ordering at the end of the war the shooting of any LTTE leaders who might try to surrender under flags of truce. But Mr. Gotabhaya alleged to have threaten to execute Mr. Fonseka if he had spilled any war secrets.[9] [10] [11]

Karuna link[edit]

Gotabhaya is credited with using the Karuna faction effectively during the war to defeat the LTTE. The former LTTE commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, better known as Colonel Karuna, told British authorities that Rajapaksa was instrumental in arranging for him to be issued with a false diplomatic passport so that he could flee to Britain in September 2007. These allegations were denied by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama at the time,[12] and later by Rajapaksa.

Relationship with the media[edit]

Rajapaksa has been accused of threatening 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 (General Sarath Fonseka) and the Army. There are Sri Lankan patriots who love us do and will do what is required if necessary."[13] 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.[14] He was also accused for threatening to "exterminate" the Daily Mirror journalist Uditha Jayasinghe for writing articles about the plight of civilian war casualties. Rajapaksa denied these claims.

A December 5, 2008 story from The New York Times quoted his news reporting position as "he insists that journalists should not be allowed to report anything that demoralizes the war effort.".[15]

In the editorial titled A brother out of control (August 16, 2011), The Hindu raised the observation, "President Rajapaksa would be well advised to distance himself swiftly from his brother's stream-of-consciousness on sensitive issues that are not his business. This includes an outrageous comment that because a Tamil woman, an “LTTE cadre” who was a British national, interviewed in the Channel 4 documentary was “so attractive” but had been neither raped nor killed by Sri Lankan soldiers, the allegation of sexual assault by soldiers could not be true. For this statement alone, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa must be taken to task."[16]

Alleged verbal abuse by Rajapaksa to the former editor of The Sunday Leader achieved international notoriety because of the unsolved murder of the editor's predecessor Lasantha Wickrematunge who had been locked in a legal battle with Rajapaksa who is currently suing Leader Publications for Rs. 2 billion (€14 million). Wickrematunge wrote an editorial which was posthumously published in which he accused Rajapaksa for his murder.

Supporter of hardline group Bodu Bala Sena[edit]

Mr. Gotabhaya is criticized by local and international media for supporting Bodu Bala Sena (most prominent new hardline group, the Buddhist Strength Force) who target Sri Lanka's Muslim minority, the organization's secretary, Gnanasara Thero, told each Buddhist present to become "an unofficial policeman against Muslim extremism".[17]

Political Abductions & White Van Incidents[edit]

As reported by Sri Lanka's leading newspaper, Major General Prasad Samarasinghe the former Military Spokesman and Director, Directorate of Media in the Army, has been passing highly sensitive information to the US Embassy in Colombo on a burning issue – Abductions. Many of those abducted were believed to have been individuals who had fallen foul of the Rajapaksa trio. Mahinda, Basil and Gotabhaya, while visiting United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navanetham Pillay expressed her disappointment that “white van” disappearances reported in Colombo and other parts of the country will not covered by the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances set up by the government. [18] [19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "CHRONOLOGY-Attacks blamed on Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers". Reuters. 2008-01-08. 
  2. ^ www.toplankanews.com[dead link]
  3. ^ A legend of our times – Opinion. Defence.lk. Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  4. ^ Who are the Real Traitors ?. www.defence.lk (2008-12-30). Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  5. ^ T.B. Singalaxana (2007-07-19). Politics, Thoppigala and rhetoric. Daily Mirror
  6. ^ 1 Gotabaya Rajapaksha-Talk at "Tech Colloquium" organized by Microsoft. YouTube. Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  7. ^ "Honorary degrees to the President and Gota". Daily Mirror. 2009-09-05. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  8. ^ Buerk, Roland. (2007-06-12) South Asia | Sri Lanka accuses 'bullying' West. BBC News. Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  9. ^ "Gotabaya Rajapaksa should be tried for war crimes". Frontierindia.net. 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  10. ^ "Fonseka will be hanged if he spills war secrets: Lanka". Times Of India. 2010-06-07. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  11. ^ Jason Burke, South Asia correspondent (2011-11-18). "Former Sri Lankan army chief convicted for war crimes claim | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  12. ^ "Gotabaya 'gave me passport'". BBC News. 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  13. ^ Sunday Times – Death bells toll for the free media. Sundaytimes.lk (2008-06-01). Retrieved on 2012-07-09.
  14. ^ :: Daily Mirror on the Web – Front Page ::[dead link]
  15. ^ Somini Sengupta (2008-12-05). Sri Lankan Army Is Pushing for End to 25-Year War Against the Tamil Rebels, The New York Times.
  16. ^ "A brother out of control". The Hindu. 2011-08-16. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  17. ^ "BBC News - The hardline Buddhists targeting Sri Lanka's Muslims". BBC. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  18. ^ "A Top Sri Lankan Major General, The US And Gotabhaya Rajapaksa". The Sunday Leader. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  19. ^ "Video: Signs of Sri Lanka moving towards authoritarianism-Pillay | Breaking News". Dailymirror.lk. 2013-08-31. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 


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