Sri Lanka 2019
Sri Lanka. On Easter Day, Sri Lanka was shaken by a terrorist attack in which over 250 people died and around 500 were injured in coordinated bomb attacks against three churches and three hotels, respectively. Authorities believed that the local Islamist extremist group National Tawhid Jamaat (NTJ) was behind it. The Islamist group Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) was also suspected. At the same time, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group assumed responsibility for the attacks. In a video published by the terror group, NTJ founder Mohamad Zahran Hashim, who was reported to be one of the brains behind the terrorist act.
He was also one of the suicide bombers who blew himself to death at the Shangri-La Hotel. There lived the Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife Anne Holch Povlsen, who lost three of their four children in the attack. The fate of the family received a lot of attention in Scandinavian media.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of LKA in general and in geography as Sri Lanka in particular.
Shortly after the bombing, the security situation in Sri Lanka was increased, while the state of emergency was announced. President Maithripala Sirisena had criminalized Islamist groups NTJ and JMI and 10,000 soldiers searched for members of the groups. By the end of April, 100 people with suspected connections to NTJ had been arrested according to authorities. In addition, Sri Lanka expelled around 600 foreigners, of whom 200 were Muslim ministers. Also 140 people with connections to IS were sought by police.
In April, the country’s national police chief Pujith Jayasundara was also forced to resign following criticism from President Sirisena.
Pujith Jayasundara in turn criticized the president in a letter to the Supreme Court in June. However, the complaints were dismissed by Sirisena, who also made sure that the head of the intelligence service Sisira Mendis resigned after he expressed dissatisfaction with the president in front of an investigative committee.
According to analysts, the terrorist act exposed serious communication shortcomings between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose relationship was characterized by power struggles and conflicts last year. Media stated that India had shared intelligence information with warnings of impending attacks in Sri Lanka which are never believed to have reached the government.
In the wake of the terrorist acts, the fear of new deeds in Sri Lanka was great. Anti-Muslim currents increased, as did concerns about the country’s Muslim population being attacked. In social media, hostility towards Muslims grew, many of whom were subjected to hate crimes and organized mobs. This is despite the fact that several non-extreme Muslims, according to media, had warned Zahran Hashim for several years.
In July, Sri Lanka’s highest court sentenced the convicts to four prisoners sentenced to death for drug offenses. The reason was that the court wanted to investigate whether the death penalty violated the constitution after President Sirisena signed the death sentence for the four prisoners in June. With the signature, Sirisena raised a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty that has been held since 1976.
The state of emergency, which was announced after the death on Easter Day, was lifted in August.
In the same month, Sri Lanka received harsh criticism from both the United Nations and the United States after the country appointed General Criminal Prosecutor General Shavendra Silva as new army commander. Silva is suspected by the UN and the United States of war crimes and crimes against humanity as he led the government’s forces in the final phase of the Sri Lankan civil war. In protest of the appointment, the United Nations announced in September that soldiers from the Sri Lankan army were no longer welcome to join the organization’s peacekeeping forces.
In the November presidential election, the election was mainly between the opposition’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka’s Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and Sajith Premadasa from the ruling United National Party (UNP). Gotabaya Rajapaksa won with just over 52% of the vote. He was Minister of Defense at the end of the Civil War in 2009 and is the brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After the end of the year, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa as the country’s prime minister.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Sri Lanka in 2019 was 21,323,622, ranking number 58 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.450% yearly, and the population density was 340.0372 people per km2.