The Sunday Leader

The US Googly And A Government Canar

By Dinouk Colombage

Britain’s controversial Channel 4 video alleging execution of Tiger detainees and The Tigers were known to use child soldiers

In a detailed report released by the US State Department on April 9, the issue of abductions and killings carried out in the last year is examined with the mention of several individuals who were victims of such actions. The report further goes on to examine the powers of the President, which enables him to ignore Sri Lanka’s legislative body.
Hot on the heels of this report being released, a government MP, Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha made an astounding claim to the BBC Sinhala Sandeshaya Service.  On April 10, the BBC carried a report quoting Wijesinha as having said that the UK ‘linked’ former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka to the assassination of Founder Editor of this newspaper, Lasantha Wickrematunge.   Wickrematunge was murdered as he drove to work on January 8, 2009.
Wijesinha’s claim subsequently denied by the British High Commission in Colombo to The Sunday Leader was by his own admission to this newspaper made in response to the release of the US State Dept. report. (Read Prof. Wijesinha on the opp. page)
The report under the caption ‘Respect For Human Rights’ Section 1 part a, states that ‘there was no progress on the January 2009 killing of the Chief Editor of The Sunday Leader and Morning Leader newspapers, Lasantha Wickrematunge, by four assailants.’
In response, Prof. Wijesinha told The Sunday Leader, “We really ought to do better in investigating the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.”  He however said he now “cannot find” a note he insists was handed to him at the British High Commission in Colombo by its former Defence Attaché Col. Anton Gash which contained a typed allegation against the now imprisoned ex army commander stating, “A gang associated with Sarath Fonseka was responsible for some of the killings and abductions.”
For the record, Wijesinha refused to reveal the name of the British defence attache when asked to do so.
Since the BBC report however Wijesinha told this newspaper that he cannot recall when exactly this note was given to him or “if it was before or after Wickrematunge was murdered.”
“I can’t quite remember now,” he said, dismissing the BBC Sandeshaya report as “absolute rubbish” in relation to quoting him saying that the UK ‘linked’ Sarath Fonseka to the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.  “My responses to the BCC Sandeshaya Service was in relation to the US State Dept. report making unfounded allegations against this government in relation to abductions and murders and was not particularly in relation to the killing of Wickrematunge,” he said.  Prof. Wijesinha was one time Secretary General of the Government’s Peace Secretariat before being nominated to parliament on the government’s National List.
And while this little side-show was being enacted courtesy of the government, both the Americans in Colombo and the Rajapaksas remained significantly non committal about the American report and its damning indictment on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.
The report indeed draws special attention to the domination of government by the President’s family, ‘Two of the President’s brothers hold key executive branch posts as Defence Secretary and Minister of Economic Development, while a third brother is the Speaker of parliament.’ It goes in to further detail explaining the misuse of state property by the government in securing victory in both the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.
The findings capture the atmosphere at both elections by stating, ‘While many observers questioned the size of Rajapaksa’s margin of victory, most believed that the results represented the will of the electorate.’
The passing of the 18th Amendment last September receives special mention and the impact it has on the ruling system. ‘The mechanisms by which the seats on the Constitutional Council and its subsidiary councils are filled, including the Judicial Service Commission, was changed.’
The State Department goes on to identify that despite this new ruling, the President is still to appoint any of the councils. It goes on to state that the Constitutional Council is absent having not been appointed by the government. As a result there is a serious lack of important checks on executive powers. A large portion of the damning report has been devoted to extra-judicial killings that have continued, along with examples of cases of abductions. The report clearly points the finger at the government and paramilitary groups associated with them.
‘The government and its agents continued to be responsible for serious human rights problems. Security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings’. Despite stating that the number of killings has declined, it presents examples of victims and suspicious circumstances that have surrounded their deaths while in police custody. The report claims that unknown members of the TMVP led by Karuna and Pillayan, along with members of the EPDP led by Minister Douglas Devananda in Jaffna, are key suspects in these killings.
The issue of abductions that took place last year is also documented. It notes that the figures obtained regarding these disappearances are unreliable. An astounding 77 persons are believed to have gone missing in 2010. The State Department goes on to state that many of these abductions have taken place in the North and the East, while a few had been reported in Colombo. The report further states that the government attributed these disappearances to the fact that those individuals left the country without notifying their family. This explanation has been strongly disputed by human rights groups.
The subject of torture and prisoner abuse is also examined in the report. The State Department claims that security forces in Sri Lanka believe that torture is allowed in certain circumstances. Again, the report points the finger of blame at the government. It draws attention to the comment made by UN Special Rapporteur, Manfred Nowak, who stated that “torture is widely practised in Sri Lanka.”
However, the report does note that there were no accurate statistics on torture cases reported in the country. The report did state independent observers, who met with those detainees that were released, claimed that there were no signs of systematic abuse or torture. Prison conditions were examined in the human rights report, with claims that ‘prisons designed for approximately 10,000 inmates held an estimated 26,000 prisoners.’ Of these 26,000 prisoners, 12,000 have been convicted while a further 14,000 are being detained whilst awaiting trial.
The continual detention of people suspected to be LTTE sympathisers or operators is highlighted in the report. The account criticises the use of Emergency Regulations claiming that it does not clearly define what constitutes an arbitrary arrest. This meant that while the law was in effect, the law prohibiting arbitrary arrests was ineffective. According to the State Department the government had detained an unknown number of individuals temporarily. Observers have stated that some were released within two days if no official detention notice was produced, whilst others were detained for longer periods of time.
The report does draw notice to the fact that the Emergency Laws have been relaxed, preventing police from conducting searches without judicial warrants. It does however go on to explain that the law still allows for detention without warrants. An incident in which several university students were arrested for hooting at the Minister of Education is highlighted. The subsequent protests saw further arrests and detention of students by the year end. The report speaks of the government having blamed these protests and incidents on left-wing parties.
The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is also featured in the report. It draws attention to the fact that many international observers criticised the Commission stating that it was being extended to avoid addressing accountability. The criticisms from the international community regarding the lack of witness protection and impartiality on the part of the commission are highlighted.
The issue of women and children is identified in the report. Of the 1,575 cases involving children, 497 have been indicted while the rest have either been dismissed or referred to police for further investigation. Over 3,000 complaints regarding abuse against women had been received last year by the Bureau of Protection for Women and Children, however there is no indication of how many of these were addressed.
The report claims that Indian-origin and local Tamils continue to insist that any institutions controlled by the government continually discriminate against them. The account however does not quote any observers or individuals to back up these claims.

Extra-Judicial Killings In 2010
•    On May 23, police arrested Pattiyage Komako Lalan Peiris in what observers stated later was a case of mistaken identity. The next morning he was found dead, handcuffed to a table in a police station cell. Police officials explained the cause of death as a heart attack, but an autopsy carried out later at the insistence of the family revealed signs of torture.
•    On August 25, Jayasekara Arachchige Roshan Jayasekara was arrested near Kiribathgoda for stealing a mobile phone. One day later his body was brought to the local hospital by police. A post mortem examination showed multiple blunt force trauma injuries.
•    On August 31, police officers attached to the Special Task Force (STF) arrested Jayakody Arachchilage Oman Perera. During the journey by jeep to Colombo, one of the officers shot Perera because he allegedly tried to escape. He died in the hospital that same day.
•    On September 4, Suresh Kumar was arrested by police officers and taken to show them a hidden cache of weapons. The police claimed that he attempted to throw a hand grenade at the officers while they traveled to the location. His body later was found on the roadside
•    On September 18, police shot and killed Ranmukage Ajith Prasanna as they transported him to show them the location of a hidden stash of weapons. Police claimed Prasanna attempted to grab a firearm from one of the officers while being transported, but there was no explanation why he was not properly restrained.
•    On December 31, unidentified armed men entered the home of Ketheeswaran Thevarajah near Jaffna and killed him. He recently had posted photos of illegal sand excavation on his Facebook profile.

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Disappearances
•    Prageeth Eknaligoda, a journalist and cartoonist for Lanka-e-news, disappeared on January 24, 2010, two days before the presidential election. Police launched an investigation, and government statements promised imminent progress on the case several times, but by year’s end there were no announced suspects or visible progress on the case.
•    On July 21, a group of unknown persons abducted Thirimadura Upali Mendis in Tangalle. His family stated he had been in a business dispute with a prominent local businessman over a plot of land. Police in Tangalle took a missing persons report but made no progress in the case at year’s end.
•    There was no progress in solving the May 2009 disappearance of Stephen Sunthararaj, project manager at the Center for Human Rights and Development. Sunthararaj had been held by police without charges since February of that year and was abducted by four persons in a white van wearing army uniforms shortly after he was released on a court order.
•    There was no progress in the investigation of the October 2009 disappearance of Sankarapillai Shantha Kumar, a member of the NGO consortium in Akkaraipattu, Ampara District. Credible sources had linked the incident to the TMVP.
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Incidents Of Torture
•    On May 26, police officers in Ahangama arrested Ganegoda Sinhage Haritha Lakmal and severely beat him. His injuries required surgery and reportedly almost caused his death.
•    According to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), on August 23, police officers arrested Jesu Andrew in the Kandy District for allegedly stealing jewellery from a woman’s handbag and took him to the Panwila Police Station, where they tortured him. He was allegedly stripped naked, forced to lie down on a bench, and beaten severely with a pole over various parts of his body. The officers also rubbed chili powder on his genitalia. While torturing him, the officers tried to force him to confess that he had stolen the jewellery. When he refused to plead guilty, he was allegedly thrown into a police cell and beaten again.
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Arbitrary Arrests
•    According to AHRC, on June 17, two officers from Balagolla Police Station violently arrested Alhaj Farook Mohomad Ikram close to his home. The victim was not told the reason for his arrest. He was released the same evening
without being charged, although his eardrum was damaged in the assault and he was hospitalised for a number of days. He received no replies from the
authorities regarding his requests for redress and compensation.

4 Comments for “The US Googly And A Government Canar”

  1. Lal

    Sunday Leader is back in action. Do we need freedom of expression when we have papers like SL?

  2. dagobert

    So, Harshi Perera is allegedly in the payroll of AHRC and she is now dabbling in information of Basil fernando’s AHRC funded by Foreign ministry Of Denmark who acts as the proxy for whom (best known to them or to the Western hedgemony or to that little Roman Empire) to discredit GOSL.

    There now appears to be many Sri lankans in the payroll of this axis willing to destabilise SL and to install their puppet the man in waiting to be bride that RW.

    There is a concereted effort with Clergy involved directly & indirectly giving a further push towards in this goal. We have heard AHRC visitor R/priest Shelton Ried F’do speak, then that Lasantha de Abrew…. Sun Goat worshipper S.J.Emmanuel in cassoak who promotes himself as a batch mate of Joseph Ratzinger .
    It appears the atrocities stated in the history of the Holy Roman Empire is going to repeat itself in Sri Lanka through these sources.

    And the media & journalist are ready or already joined the bandwagon raking up dried cowdung daily.

  3. OBSERVER

    Let the games begin!

  4. The US Report is factual, in highlighting the human rights violations past & present, which occurred in the country. This report supplements the findings of Philip Aston, Manfred Novak, John Holmes, Alan Rock, Robert Evans & Louise Arbour – all UN experts who visited sri lanka during the past decades, investigated and reported on the judicial, political, social and human rights situation in sri lanka.
    Events of human rights violations since independence are here:-
    http://nesohr.org/files/Lest_We_Forget.pdf
    http://nesohr.org/hrr/?show=all
    Rev. Fr. X.Karunairatnam who collected and published these reports, was himself killed.

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