Exiled Sri Lanka President warned to stay in his hotel in Bangkok

PHOTO: The ex-president was advised to lay low while in Thailand. (via Gotabaya Rajapaksa)

With many opposing Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s arrival in Thailand, police are advising the ousted Sri Lanka president to stay in his hotel in central Bangkok for his safety. He arrived in Bangkok Thursday evening at about 8pm after diverting a flight planned to land in Phuket.

Fearful of an information leak, the privately chartered plane carrying the exiled ex-president along with three other passengers decided not to land in Phuket and instead flew to Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok. There he was met with an official escort brigade comprised of military personnel and the Thai police.

With security concerns, the location and name of the hotel were not revealed, and plain clothes police officers are protecting the Special Branch Bureau instead of uniformed officials. The former president of Sri Lanka was advised that he should stay within the confines of his hotel for the duration of his visit to Thailand.

This low-key stay in the kingdom is in line with PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s statement to reporters the day before Rajapaksa’s arrival when he said he suggests the former leader lays low. Entry was granted to the ex-president on humanitarian grounds and, since he carries a diplomatic passport, he is allowed to stay in the country for up to 90 days.

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The ousted leader has struggled to find a safe haven since fleeing Sri Lanka where 100,000 protesters demanded his resignation and stormed official buildings. He barely escaped on July 14, traveling first to the Maldives and then to Singapore where he was granted a temporary residence but without any talk of amnesty or a long-term stay.

While in Singapore, many human rights groups call for the city-state to take action against the former Sri Lankan president. The International Truth and Justice Project in South Africa called on Singapore to arrest Rajapaksa and charge him with breaches of international humanitarian law under universal jurisdiction. They accuse him of crimes against humanity during the long civil war in Sri Lanka until 2009.

As his visa in Singapore was set to expire on August 11, he quietly made arrangements and slipped into Thailand. There’s a fair chance that similar requests to arrest the former president will be aimed at Thailand as long as he remains in the kingdom.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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