Sri Lankan state minister claims to be fired for criticizing the government

Sri Lankan state minister claims to be fired for criticizing the government
AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena/abc News 2020

07-01-2022

Sarah Thanawala

Sri Lanka and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defense.

On 4 January 2022, former Sri Lankan state minister Susil Premajayantha claimed to have been fired from his office on account of criticizing the government’s ban on chemical fertilizer (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). Reportedly, 90% of Sri Lankan farmers depend on chemical fertilizers (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). The Sri Lankan government’s grossly uninformed agricultural policy had the likelihood of reducing crop production by 85% (Tamil Guardian, 2022a). 

Furthermore, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a statement claiming that the cabinet of ministers must maintain discipline, and refrain from criticism (Tamil Guardian, 2022b). The statement is reportedly directed towards the ministers that have criticized the government for its Yugadanavi Power Plant deal (Tamil Guardian, 2022b).  This deal has received strong opposition from the trade unions on account of the construction of a large oil-fired power station in the Western province of Kerawalapitiya (Tamil Guardian, 2022b).

“Chastising” the ministers for criticizing the government highlights the lack of freedom of speech in Sri Lanka (Tamil Guardian, 2022c). The urgent need to address this issue is further highlighted with Sri Lanka ranking 127th out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index (Tamil Guardian, 2022c). 

Source and further reading:

Tamil Guardian (2022a, January 5). Sri Lankan minister claims he was fired for criticising the government. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/sri-lankan-state-minister-claims-he-was-fired-criticising-government

Tamil Guardian (2022b, January 5). ‘Stop being unethical!’- President Rajapaksa urges his cabinet to stop criticising the government.  https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/stop-being-unethical-president-rajapaksa-urges-his-cabinet-stop-criticising-government 

Tamil Guardian (2022c, January 6). Our state respects the freedom of speech of its critics, claims Sri Lankan media minister. https://www.tamilguardian.com/content/our-state-respects-freedom-speech-its-critics-claims-sri-lankan-media-minister