10/13/2017, 11.32
SRI LANKA

Rajapaksa’s son arrested for protesting sale of airport named after his father

The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport was funded by a Chinese loan. It is one of the world’s least used airports, servicing just one flight a day. India would have offered US 0 million for the purchase.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Sri Lankan police arrested Namal Rajapaska, son of the island's former dictator . He was arrested on 10 October along with other 28 people. He is accused for leading an unlawful protest against the sale of the international airport named after his father to an Indian company in Hambantota, 240 kilometres south of capital Colombo.

Police Superintendent Ruwan Gunasekera said the eldest son of Mahinda Rajapaksa had violated a court order banning street protests and damaged public property. Video footage released on social media showed Rajapaksa chanting anti-India slogans outside the consulate’s offices. Hundreds of protesters tried to break through barricades but police fired water cannon to stop them reaching the diplomatic compound.

The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport was built under rule of the former president-dictator and was funded by a Chinese loan. It is one of several state-owned works labelled as “white elephants” by the population that were and have never turned a profit. In particular it is one of the world’s least used airports, servicing just one flight a day.

The new government of president Maithripala Sirisena offered to sell the structure, and it is said that the Indian authorities would have offered US 0 million for the purchase. In July Colombo handed over to China the most of the port in Hambantota, although protests and demonstrations by local residents afraid that they would be forced out to make room for Beijing's megaprojects.

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