This is our investigation into the truth of a photo, which went viral on social media streams in Sri Lanka, claiming to be scenes of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members fleeing from a Sri Lankan Air Force helicopter
Social Media Claims
A photo was widely circulated on social media alleging to be an image of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family leaving the country on the 10th of May, soon after his resignation on 9th of May.
Accordingly, posts related to these claims had been circulating on social media as follows.
Comments from Facebook users to these photo posts showed that many had speculated that it was scenes of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members leaving the country, after he had resigned from the premiership recently. There were also several comments in Sinhala, blaming the three forces, including the Air Force, for their support to Mahinda Rajapaksa to flee from the country.
We noticed that above Facebook posts were crated based on a post by “OneIndia Tamil” official Facebook page, which had later been deleted.
We did a reverse image search of the viral image and it was revealed that this photo was not taken on the 10th of this month but on the 09th of January 2015.
This is a photograph of Mahinda Rajapaksa boarding a Sri Lanka Air Force MI17 helicopter to fly to Tangalle after his defeat in the 2015 Presidential Election.
Also, the photo was taken by senior photo journalist Susantha Liyanawatte.
Here is a video of Mahinda Rajapaksa boarding the helicopter and returning to his home in Medamulana.
Namal Rajapaksa, told AFP on Tuesday, Rajapaksa family had no plans to leave Sri Lanka.
“There are a lot of rumors that we are going to leave. We will not leave the country,” he said, describing the surge of national anger against his family as a “bad patch”.
He added that Mahinda would not step down as a lawmaker and wanted to play an active role in choosing his successor.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was taken to an undisclosed location after protesters breached the compound fence at Temple Trees, his official residence in the capital Colombo, on Monday night.
“My father is safe, he is at a safe location and he is communicating with the family,” said Namal, who served as the country’s sports minister until a cabinet shake-up last month. More details about this can be taken from here and here.
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Our investigation of these posts shows that the recently shared photograph of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members boarding a helicopter was taken when Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa was preparing to leave for Tangalle in 2015 after losing the Presidential Election.
Title:2015 photo shared as recent scenes of Mahinda Rajapaksa leaving the country!Fact Check By: Pavithra Sandamali