Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brothers and former presidents of Sri Lanka, have been prohibited from entering Canada because they violated human rights during the island country’s civil conflict.
When a no-holds-barred military offensive destroyed the Tamil Tigers separatist movement in 2009, Mahinda Rajapaksa was in office and Gotabaya was in charge of the defense ministry.
According to estimates from international observers, an indiscriminate bombing and clearance effort during the final months of the conflict resulted in the deaths of up to 40,000 civilians who belonged to the ethnic Tamil minority.
Top Western countries have already sanctioned and issued travel bans to Sri Lankan military officers, but Canada’s decision is the first to specifically target the two members of the influential political clan.
The acting Canadian envoy was summoned on Wednesday, according to the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka, “to express our greatest disappointment.”
During their time in leadership, both brothers resisted calls from the international community to look into war crimes perpetrated during the painful, protracted civil war.
At the height of an unprecedented economic crisis that saw demonstrators assault his official residence, Gotabaya, who took office in 2019, resigned as president last year.
He left the nation, but has since made a comeback and is now residing in a complex under the protection of the military and the police.