A Father’s Love That Brought Oceans Of Tears
by Dinuk Samarasinghe
Sri Lanka Navy Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa – son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and de-facto chairman of the Rajapaksa family-owned Carlton Sports Network (CSN) along with its CEO Nishantha Ranatunga and the former President’s Spokesman Rohan Weliwita were arrested by the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) over alleged financial irregularities relating to the channel and money laundering charges amounting to a staggering Rs. 234 million.
Posts on Facebook showing a photo of Mahinda Rajapaksa shedding tears after Yoshitha was arrested went viral during last week. As any father would weep if his offspring was thrown into prison or remand, Mahinda shedding tears was nothing extraordinary considering the oceans of tears shed by fathers, mothers, sons and daughters of hundreds of innocent citizens allegedly attacked, maimed, killed or disappeared by the Rajapaksas.
Trincomalee quintuple youth murder
However, the public had not forgotten the rivers of tears shed by the parents of five budding youth – Thangathurai Sivanantha (Engineering student of the University of Moratuwa), Logithasan Rohanth, Shanmugarajah Sajeenthiran, Manoharan Rajeehar and Yogarajah Hemachandran of Trincomalee killed in cold blood in 2006.
According to former DIG and JHU member H. M. G. B. Kotakadeniya, the STF team in question was sent to Trincomalee just before Christmas 2005, with the approval of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
Shortly after the murders, journalist Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan was shot dead after publishing photos showing the bodies of the five students with point-blank gunshot injuries, disproving government claims that they were killed by a grenade explosion, according to Tamil Guardian.
Although President Mahinda Rajapaksa pledged publicly and to the Donor Co-chairs in Tokyo that the perpetrators would be brought to justice, irrespective of rank and a dozen members of the Special Task Force were placed under restraint pending inquiries; they were effectively discharged later on.
In a leaked US Embassy cable from Colombo in October 2006, the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake met with the then Senior Presidential Advisor and former MP Basil Rajapaksa. The cable stated,
“Speaking with surprising candor, Rajapaksa explained the GSL’s efforts to prove that members of the Special Task Force (STF) murdered five students in Trincomalee in January: “We know the STF did it, but the bullet and gun evidence shows that they did not. They must have separate guns when they want to kill someone. We need forensic experts. We know who did it, but we can’t proceed in prosecuting them.”
Torture and murder of Wasim Thajudeen
Both Mahinda and Yoshitha Rajapaksa have to be reminded that relatives of former Sri Lanka Rugby Captain Wasim Thajudeen bade farewell to a closed casket. Capt. Tissa – driver of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is yet to be arrested in connection with the murder. Although Rajapaksas said that Thajudeen had died of burn injuries after the car in which he was travelling met with an accident and went into flames at Park Road, Narahenpita in close proximity to Shalika Grounds on May 17, 2012, later it became questionable as to how his wallet was found a few kilometers away from the scene of the accident and Thajudeen’s mobile phone traced from the Nuwara Eliya area, a long distance away from where the victim’s car met with the accident.
According to CID sources, there have been many lapses when conducting the investigation soon after Thajudeen’s death and the investigation team had deliberately failed to obtain CCTV footages from the vicinity. Only the Rajapaksas know answers to these.
Disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda
The wife and children of disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda didn’t get even a chance of seeing the body of their loved one. It is believed that Eknaligoda, who was a critic of the Rajapaksa regime, was abducted and murdered reportedly for compiling ‘The Family Tree’ – a book on Rajapaksa and his family members involved in politics and holding high posts in the government. He had also produced a 40-minute documentary portraying the then presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka on ‘secrets of winning the war’. Why the Field Marshall is yet to give evidence on his erstwhile brothers-in-arms – the Rajapaksas – is yet unanswered. Sandya Eknaligoda alleged that the suspected military intelligence unit members had been receiving ‘right royal’ treatment in prison.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa government’s decision to unleash the armed forces on unarmed civilians demanding for their basic right of drinking water was met with much indignation not only across the country but even overseas. Ravishan Perera, a student of St. Peter’s College, Gampaha, 17-year old Akila Dinesh, a student at Chandrajothy Maha Vidyalaya in Yakkala, and 20-year-old Nilantha Pushpakumara from Udahenthenna, Gampola were shot dead and scores were injured whilst engaged in a protest rally at Weliweriya on 01 August 2013, which was held to plead to the government for safe drinking water.
Katunayake FTZ shootout
Have the Rajapaksa’s forgotten Roshen Chanaka, who would have been close to Yoshitha’s age had he been allowed to live. In the prime of his youth – Roshen Chanaka was shot dead by police during a protest by FTZ workers in Katunayake against the Rajapaksa’s totalitarian move to introduce a pension scheme for the private sector employees in May 2011.
Regardless of the power wielded by the Rajapaksa regime, it could not implement the pension fund, and finally the workers’ movement dealt a decisive blow in the defeat of Rajapaksa on January 8.
Chilaw fisherman’s killing
Have the Rajapaksa supporters conveniently forgotten the image of 9-year-old Nipuni hugging the identity card of her dead father – 38-year old Warnakulasooriya Anthony Fernando, killed during the melee between Police and the fishermen when the former allegedly indiscriminately opened fire at the protestors? It may be because Yoshitha’s mother did not have to go as a housemaid to Middle East to earn money to repay a loan taken to purchase a fishing boat.
Nadaraja Raviraj MP assassination
Did not the Rajapaksas ever think that Pravina Raviraj – daughter of slain Jaffna district MP Nadaraja Raviraj – had to wait nine long years along with her brother and mother hoping for justice, long overdue?
Lasantha Wickrematunge murder
Has he forgotten the cries of three innocent children – Avinash, Ahimsa and Aadesh who along with their mother Raine. It was nothing but divine justice that led to the fall of one of the most tyrannical regimes, exactly on the sixth death anniversary of their loving father and Founder Editor-in-Chief of The Sunday Leader – Lasantha Wickrematunge?
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Wickrematunge was a vocal critic of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and at the time of his murder, he was involved in a legal fight with Rajapaksa’s brother, the then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
In his final editorial, published after his assassination, Wickrematunge wrote: “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.” He also wrote that he hoped his murder would not be interpreted as a “defeat of press freedom but as an inspiration”. In the years since the end of Sri Lanka’s long-running civil war more than 80 journalists have fled the country.
Can the former President wipe his slate clean by saying that it was none other than his chief opponent at the 2010 Presidential Election and arch enemy Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka who killed Wickrematunge and go scot free?
Gen. Sarath Fonseka
Did the Rajapaksas fail to recall that Gen. Fonseka became a political prisoner after running for presidential election against Mahinda Rajapaksa? General Gardihewa Sarath Chandralal Fonseka was reportedly arrested like a dog from his office in Colombo on February 8, 2010 by Military Police, and taken into custody of the Sri Lanka Navy.
According to Transcurrents, General Fonseka was deprived of his basic rights and cruelly victimized in a blatant display of revenge taking by the Rajapaksa regime for having contested the Presidential poll of 2010 as a common opposition candidate. Within a fortnight of the Presidential poll held on Jan. 26, 2010, General Fonseka was forcibly dragged out from his office by soldiers formerly under his command and detained.
He was court-martialed not just by one but two for ‘committing military offences’ during his time as Chief of Defence Staff.
Amidst all these issues, the panel of judges found Fonseka guilty of the charges and sentenced him to 30 months of rigorous imprisonment. In August 2010, by proclamation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, he was cashiered from the army having been stripped of his rank, medals and decorations. His military pension was forfeited.
Divine retribution for Rajapaksa?
Did former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ever think that he would be immune to divine retribution the same way he and his dynasty tried to ensure that Mahinda would reign till his crown prince was old enough to take over and be resistant to justice due to the immunity accorded to the country’s first citizen?
Not only Yoshitha, but all Rajapaksas should remember this and comprehended that one day, they too will reap what they had sown.