The Sunday Leader

Light At End Of The Tunnel For Victims Of Political Vengeance

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

The government has taken measures to pay compensation to those subjected to political vengeance. Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs D.M. Swaminathan said as a first step 1,565 persons subjected to political vengeance will be compensated by December this year, in response to queries made by The Sunday Leader.

Compensation will be paid to the UNP activists who have had to face numerous political harassment and damage to life and property for the past 20 years. When asked about the proposed amount to be paid to them, the minister said the matter has been submitted for Cabinet approval.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had given instructions to grant these political victims compensation, and accordingly, the rehabilitation Ministry is in the process of granting the compensation payments by the end of this term, Minister Swaminathan said.

4,264 persons who had faced political vengeance on numerous occasions had submitted their applications for compensation. Among them, 1,565 completed applications with Grama Seva certification, DS certification etc, as per the requirement, will initially get the compensation. They are politically victimised persons from throughout the country. However, applications with issues regarding their documentation and incomplete applications, could be resubmitted after completion, Swaminathan said.

In addition, the government plans to pay compensation to those who were affected in the 1997 Nalanda Ellawala assassination and Major Janaka Perera assassination incidents. Compensation for the loss of life and property damage will be paid to those affected in the Major Janaka Perera assassination incident. According to Minister Swaminathan, the relevant Cabinet paper is currently being prepared and is expected to be submitted within the next two weeks. With regard to the Nalanda Ellawala incident in 1997, parliament hansard records that former Minister Gamini Athukorale has said that compensation should be paid . Taking this into consideration, attention has been focused on this incident.

Lawmaker Nalanda Ellawala, 29, and a security guard of another legislator traveling with him died, and five people were wounded in a confrontation on a road in Kuruwita in February 1997.

The Anuradhapura High Court sentenced LTTE member Shanmuganathan Sudaharan to 20 years rigorous imprisonment  after being found guilty of assassinating Major General Janaka Perera and 29 others in 2008.  Major General Perera, his wife Vajira, one of the first lady officers to join the Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps and several others were killed in the bomb attack while over 90 civilians were injured. The dead included fourUNP provincial councilors and former Lankan Ambassador and UNP Anuradhapura organiser Dr John Pulle and his wife. The bomb attack took place at a ceremony organized to open a newly built UNP office situated near the old bus stand in the Anuradhapura town.

Accordingly measures will be taken to pay compensation to those affected by political vengeance, applications for such claims should be handed over to the Rehabilitation Ministry. However, although it had been promised many a time to pay compensation to those who were politically targeted, it was confined to promises which have never been implemented. For example, on prior occasions although applications were called for the payment of compensation for journalists who had been targeted politically, apart from appointing committees to look into this issue, so far nothing tangible has come of it.

No measure of compensation can ever bring back the lives that were lost due to political vengeance, yet compensation will at least ease the burden on their families and help relieve their pain to some extent. Hence, we will have to wait until December this year to see if this promise too is just a mere empty promise, or if the government will indeed deliver on their promises.

In a world where vows are worthless, where making a pledge means nothing, where promises are made to be broken, it would be nice to see words come back into power and see the government deliver on their promises.

If not the same people who toppled the Rajapaksa regime will no doubt take measures to change the good governance regime as well, for they expected much more from this government having been let down too many times by the previous regime.

1 Comment for “Light At End Of The Tunnel For Victims Of Political Vengeance”

  1. Robert

    Pay some money and ask them t forget about it. Ha ha

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