Drawing Name – Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Medium – Digital Painting (Watercolor & Oil Paint Style)
Painting Software – Corel Painter, Fresh Paint
Editing Software – Photoshop, Illustrator
Lieutenant Colonel Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, RWP, RSP, psc, GR is a Sri Lankan politician, technocrat, and military officer, who is the current President of Sri Lanka. He served as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development from 2005 to 2015 under the administration of his elder brother former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, leading the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to the military defeat of the Tamil tigers, ending the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Born to a prominent political family from the south of Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa was educated at Ananda College, Colombo and joined the Ceylon Army in April 1971. Following basic training at the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa, he was commissioned as signals officer and later transferred to several infantry regiments. He saw active service in the early stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War with the elite Gajaba Regiment, taking part in several major offensives such as the Vadamarachi Operation, Operation Strike Hard and Operation Thrividha Balaya, as well as counter-insurgency operations during the 1987–1989 JVP insurrection. He took early retirement from the army and moved into the field of information technology, before immigrating to the United States in 1998. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2005, to assist his brother in his presidential campaign and was appointed Defence Secretary in his brother’s administration. During his tenure the Sri Lankan Armed Forces successfully concluded the Sri Lankan Civil War defeating the Tamil Tigers and killing its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009. He was a target of an assassination attempt in December 2006 by a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber. Following the war, Rajapaksa initiated many urban development projects. He step-down following the defeat of his brother in the 2015 Presidential election. In 2018, he emerged as a possible candidate for the 2019 Presidential election, which he successfully contested on a pro-nationalistic, economic development and national security platform gaining a majority, from the predominant Sinhalese areas of the island. He is the first person with military background to be elected as President of Sri Lanka and also the first person to be elected president who had not held an elected office prior.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa was born in Palatuwa in the Matara District, as the fifth of nine siblings, and was brought up in Weeraketiya in the southern rural district of Hambantota. He hails from a well-known political family in Sri Lanka. His father, D. A. Rajapaksa, was a prominent politician, independence agitator, Member of Parliament, Deputy Speaker and Cabinet Minister of Agriculture and Land in Wijeyananda Dahanayake’s government. His elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa was first elected to parliament as a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at the age of 24 in 1970, who gradually rose through the party ranks becoming the Leader of the Opposition in 2001, Prime Minister in 2004 and the President of Sri Lanka in 2005. Two of his other elder brothers, Chamal Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, are also current Members of Parliament. He obtained his primary and secondary education at Ananda College, Colombo.
Rajapaksa joined the Ceylon Army as a Cadet Officer on 26 April 1971, when Sri Lanka was still a dominion of the British Commonwealth and was in the midst of the 1971 JVP insurrection. Following his basic officer training at the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa in its 4th intake, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 26 May 1972, in the Sri Lanka Signals Corps. Soon after he was sent for the signal young officers course at the Military College of Signals, Rawalpindi. On his return, he was assigned as the signals officer to the Task Force Anti Illicit Immigration, based at its headquarters in Palaly, under the command of Colonel Tissa Weeratunga. In April 1974, he was promoted to Lieutenant and in October he transferred to the Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment as an infantry officer. In April 1975, he attended the infantry young officers course at the School of Infantry and Tactics, Queta. Returning in June, he was assigned as the battalion intelligence officer at the Echelon Barracks in Colombo and was promoted to Captain in April 1977. Following the change of government in the 1977 general election, he was transferred to the Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa as an officer instructor in August 1977. In January 1978, he was appointed Grade III Staff Officer of A branch, handling administration of the Diyatalawa Garrison. During this time he attended the senior staff and tactics course at the Panagoda Cantonment and took part in preparing a report on encroachment of state lands in thenorth and eastern provinces for the Defense Ministry. Thereafter in 1980, he joined the newly formed Rajarata Rifles as its adjutant under its first commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel V. K. Nanayakkara. Rajapaksa played a major role in establishing the regimental headquarters of the newly formed regiment at Saliyapura. That year he attended the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Assam and in 1982 he was selected to attended the Command and Staff course at Defence Services Staff College in Wellington in India, gaining psc qualification and a MSc in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras.
While Rajapaksa was at staff college in India, the Rajarata Rifles were amalgamated with the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment and the Gajaba Regiment was formed. Having been transferred to the Gajaba Regiment, on his return to the island, he was appointed second-in-command of the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment (1GR) under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne, instead of the traditional staff appointment that followed the returning officer from staff college. Following retraining, the 1st Battalion was deployed to the Jaffna peninsula between 1983 and 1984 and again 1985 with the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War. During this time he commanded detachments of his battalion based in Jaffna and at Elephant Pass. In 1985 he lead an adhoc unit made up of new recruits that successfully ambushed a LTTE raiding party, for which he was awarded commendation from the President J.R. Jayewardene in the first combat award ceremony. He took part in Operation Liberation commanding the 1GR, the offensive mounted to liberate Vadamarachi from LTTE in 1987. In July 1987, the 1GR was transferred to Colombo and Rajapaksa assisted Colonel Wimalaratne in securing Colombo with the outset of the second JVP insurrection until his battalion was transferred to Trincomalee in October 1987. In December 1987, Rajapaksa appointed a Grade II Staff Officer at Army Headquarters in the training branch under Colonel C. H. Fernando, Director of Training. In 1988, he attended the advanced infantry officers course at the United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel while in course and returned to his staff appointment at Army Headquarters in January 1989. In July 1989, he was appointed commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment. Soon after the 1GR was moved to Matale and Rajapaksa was appointment as the military coordinating officer of the Matale District at the height of the 1987–1989 JVP insurrection undertaking counter insurgency operations in the district and remained in that capacity until end of the insurrection in December 1989. During 1990, he commanded 1GR in Weli Oya, serving as the military coordinating officer for the Weli Oya sector under the command of Brigadier Janaka Perera and with 1 GR took part in the Operation “Strike Hard” and Operation Thrividha Balaya in Jaffna under the command of Major General Denzil Kobbekaduwa. In January 1991, he was appointed Deputy Commandant of the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy and held the position until his early retirement from the army in 1992.
During his 20 years of military service, Rajapaksa has received awards for gallantry from three Presidents of Sri Lanka, J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and D.B. Wijetunga. These include the gallantry medals, Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama.
Following his retirement, he read for a postgraduate diploma in information technology from the University of Colombo and joined Informatics, an IT firm based in Colombo as a Marketing Manager in 1992. He subsequently migrated to the United States in 1998 and worked in Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, U.S. as a Systems Integrator and Unix Solaris Administrator. During his time in the US, he also worked as the manager of a 7-11 store.