Impeach the Rajapakse dynasty from all forms of pariliament and hold them accountable

Impeach the Rajapakse dynasty from all forms of pariliament and hold them accountable

April 3, 2022
Signatures: 142Next Goal: 200
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Why this petition matters

Started by Ayman Mizhar

Sri Lanka is currently undergoing its worst economic crisis since its independence. Much of the anger is directed to the Rajapaksa family, and although they are not to completely blame, they have played a major role in its manifestation.

High inflation rates have have made it harder for ordinary citizen to buy basic necessities. As the shortage of foreign currency worsens, the country is unable to pay for essential imports, even fuel, leading to power cuts lasting up tp 24 hours, sometimes even more.

How did this happen?

The simplified version is that this crisis has been something that has been pending due to the mismanagement of successive governments that has created and sustained a "twin-deficit economy". In 2019. the Asian Development Bank confirmed this explaining how the country's national expenditure was more than its national income, and that the production of its goods and services were not adequate.

However, a series of events during the rule of the current government has been the key factor in accelerating this crisis. In 2019, deep tax cuts enforced by the president as part of a promise during his election campaign wiped out parts of the country's economy. This was just months before the pandemic and certainly did not help the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly played a major role in the crisis, as the country's tourism industry and foreign worker remittances was diminished. In response, credit rating agencies downgraded Sri Lanka and effectively locked it out of international capital markets.

As a result Sri Lanka's debt management program derailed and foreign exchange reserves plummeted 70% in about 2 years.

The Rajapaksa's decision in 2021 to ban chemical fertilizers hit the country's farming sector hard and caused a drop in the rice crop. This was later reversed after seeing its effects on the country.

As of February 2021, the country has only $2.31 billion in its foreign reserves but has debt repayments totaling $7 billion in 2022. In a review of the country's economy released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it was stated that the public debt had risen to "unsustainable reserves" and were insufficient for short-term debt repayments.

Citi research stated that considering IMF's report conclusion and the governments inadequate measures to restore debt sustainability, a strong need for debt structuring is indicated.

As much as the current problems can be attributed to the short-term "mistakes"  of the current government, this entire crisis was something that was inevitable. In the early 2000s, Sri Lanka adopted an infrastructure model based on China's own growth model. Sri Lanka has also turned towards China for funds, that they have been unable to pay back. Essentially, Sri Lanka has been caught in a viciously cycle of borrowing money from China and being unable to pay them back. Between 2012-2018, Sri Lanka's debt to China doubled from $2.2 billion to $5 billion.

More often than not, these projects are taken without appropriate studies on their socioeconomic impact or even their commercial viability. The inability for our leaders to properly assess and focus on properly building our societies really paints a picture on the capability of the leaders of Sri Lanka, present past and if following in this pattern, emerging as well.

Who is currently in charge?

A disgusting pattern of nepotism can be seen in the country's current government. More often than not, most of the leaders have barely addressed in the issue and have essentially gone into hiding. Many experts have claimed economic mismanagement of the Rajapaksas are to blame, including years of deep budget cuts and ill-advised heavy taxations.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

72, dubbed the terminator by his own family due to his short temper, as if it is a positive quality to have as a leader. He is currently presiding over Sri Lanka's spiraling economic crisis. As the shortage of foreign currency needed to pay off national debts prevail., imports of essentials were banned under his command.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

age : 76, a prominent member of the family. Previously the prime minister in 2004, and then elected as president from 2005 to 2015. During his rule, Sri Lanka borrowed a further $7 billion from china for infrastructure projects, many of which "turned into white elephants mired in corruption" (Al Jazeera)

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa

age : 70, who has previously managed the economy and now is the finance minister. He was called "Mr. 10%" by BBC due to allegations he took commissions from government contracts. All charges of allegations that he has siphoned millions of dollars from the country's reserves have been dropped since Gotabaya became president. He has been ridiculed many times due to his poor responses in addressing the country's economic issues despite being the finance ministers. 

Minister Chamal Rajapaksa

age : 79, currently holds the irrigation portfolio and is only second in the defence department, coming under Gotabaya, who is also defence minister. Formerly a police officer, he also served as the bodyguard to Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Minister Namal Rajapaksa

age : 35, a lawyer and the scion of the family dynasty. The eldest son of Mahinda and is thought to be groomed to eventually be president one day. Through connections he entered parliament in 2010 and is now the minister of youth and sports. During  his father's reign he was highly influential despite not holding any portfolio. A rival former administration, so the be taken with a grain of salt, has accusations against him for money laundering and other corruption charges, which Namal has denied.  Namal has also denied all allegations of being involved in the murder of Wasim Thajudeen. He seems to be enjoying the impunity granted by his father.

What is currently going on?

Sri Lankan's are fed up with the government. This seems to be a dead end for them as they suffer from shortage of necessities, high rates of inflation and power and water cuts. The prices being made for the mistakes of the government and leaders, past and present, are being paid by innocent citizens. 

Protests have erupted over Sri Lanka's deepening economic crisis. Gotabaya, the president, has declared a state of emergency after hundreds tried to storm his house in anger. Protesters claimed the knew Gotabaya was not present in his residence, and they just wanted to show their anger. A 36-hour curfew was imposed to quiet down people.

Although violence is strongly condemned, every Sri Lankan citizen is entitled to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly as a right under the constitution. Law enforcement have a duty to protect citizens and their rights, upholding the law. A social media ban was implemented which, Namal had spoken against, using social media.

What this petition should aim to accomplish?

To stop the downward spiral of our country, For too long, Sri Lankan leaders have proven incapable to rule the country. The aim to protect their own interests while showing a facade of caring for the country. Unfortunately, effectively looking out for themselves comes at a price. The price of every single normal Sri Lankan citizen.

By looking at our past, we can foretell our future, and unfortunately it is the same as our history. The way things are looking currently, Namal will become president  or hold a major leadership position somewhere down the line. This vicious cycle of nepotism, influence and corruption needs to stop. We need to start selecting leaders that are actually capable and rule to country, not old and barely educated old men that look out for themselves and set up a future for their families to reign like dictatorships.

Currently, there appears to be no way out, no solution. However, the rajapaksa's prevailing will definitely not help either. They have time and time again proven to look out for their own interests. The most recent example being how the shortage of the basic necessities of life aren't apparently matters of national emergency, but protesters coming near the president's house are.

Currently citizens are speculating that the social media ban is to paint a picture of the (justified) violence of protestors and hopefully rally international support towards the government. As I strongly condemn violence, I condemn the failures of the leaders of our country. They need to be ousted and made an example of. The public needs to realise that rooting for self serving, corrupt politicians is the key factor their demise.

Nepotism needs to stop. Corruption needs to stop. Self-service needs to stop. The country needs to ban together and work on themselves. This petition is mainly to paint a light of the current situation in Sri Lanka and also hopefully try to contact major international organisations with power to hold our leaders responsible and make them face the consequences and justice they deserve. Essentially GoHomeGota and GoAwayRajapaksas.

Our leaders shouldn't just run away and hide and "resign" without facing any consequences. They need to be tried in international court and the appropriate punishment needs to be sentenced.

We need to ensure the future of our country by electing capable leaders and also holding them accountable and recognising their mistakes. This petition aims to somehow alert the UN and all branches, to help us and to help us get rid of out leaders.

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Signatures: 142Next Goal: 200
Support now