( 25 April , 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka is not only a failed state, it has also been outlawed. It is not even a one party state but a government controlled by one family, that of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
|Indian opposition leader Sushma Swaraj visits a hospital in the northeastern town of Mullaittivu, on April 18, 2012. – Getty Images
This ruling clique of brothers includes the highly politicised Gothabhaye, displaying strong psychopathic symptoms, with no accountability or responsibility to the people except to his own brother the president. He controls the army, the navy, the air force and the police. He has also been credited with being the principal architect of the “grease devil” phenomenon, a barbaric exercise that plagued innocent people both in the south and the north of Sri Lanka. It would be recalled that these grease devils disguised as “devils” with grease applied to their bodies were haunting homes of innocent people and terrorising them in the nights. These actors came from the ranks of the security forces, a device invented by Gothabaye to destroy the slightest modicum of dissent even in the villages.
Political dissent has absolutely no place in Sri Lanka. Dissent is not countered by discussion, dialogue or debate. It is confronted by assassinations, abductions and disappearances. The wanton killing of the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga is both tragic and interesting in that the late Mr. Wickrematunga, just before his murder, in his last editorial predicted his killing accusing the ruling clique as being his potential assassins—a dying deposition callously disregarded with the suspects still at large. Naturally. There have been also numerous killings of Tamil journalists in the north and the east with no tangible or meaningful investigation undertaken by the criminal justice system leading us to believe that the orders for these killings committed by the State apparatus came from the top. If they were not killed they were severely assaulted.
Involuntary disappearances and abductions of political opponents conducted by paramilitary groups and the disappearance of nearly 10,000 ex-combatants of the LTTE who were amongst the internally displaced people in “concentration” camps in the Vanni immediately after the war in May 2009 do not fall within the ambit of this paper, suffice it to say that when the wives of some of these missing persons had demanded the LLRC at their sittings for information on them they were asked to write to the government, who are themselves responsible for these persons disappearing.
Involuntary disappearances are a convenient tool as a means of eliminating dissent without answerability. This had been practised in repressive states like Gautemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Uganda and Uruguay. In Chile, in the 1970s Pinochet institutionalised it making sure that the victims would not live to tell the tales of the horrendous torture and abuse that they had to go through. The system obtaining in Sri Lanka is very similar to that of Chile under Pinochet, centrally planned, controlled and executed. These disappearances which were endemic only to the Tamils a few years ago have now spread to the Sinhalese also.
When questioned on matters such as disappearances and abductions, Gotabhaya with the knack to put his foot into where his mouth is, makes it worse subsequently, by trying to defend his statements in the most puerile manner in the belief that the rest of the are either insane or absolutely credulous, a tendency shared by his brothers.
During March and April of this year alone there have been thirty abductions cum disappearances. Because of the intervention of the Australian government, an Australian citizen, Kumar Gunaratnam and a Sinhalese activist, Dimuthu Attygalle were released after being abducted and detained incommunicado. These were people fortunate to tell the tales of their ordeals. We learn that two human rights activists namely Lalith Kumar and Kugan Murugan who went missing in Jaffna in the north while preparing for a demonstration in October last year have now been found alive in police custody in Colombo. We hope that they are still alive. It is very interesting that recently a Sinhalese politician, Ravindra Udaya Shantha who happens to be a close relative of a minister in the Rajapakse government was released while in the very process of being abducted in the white van upon the president Rajapakse being contacted by the minister concerned. It is by no means a coincidence.
Last year in January Prageeth Eknelligoda a respected journalist and critic of the government went missing and since then there has been no information about him and no attempt by the State to assist his wife in finding him. What is more, his wife Sandya is now being harassed by the security forces. A well known Tamil journalist in J. S. Tissanayagam was imprisoned and later released.
Except for the handful of those disappeared still alive the rest are missing with their destinations unknown. As to whether they found their way into gas chambers as widely believed, shallow graves or the deep ocean is still a mystery.
Democratic destinies of Sri Lanka are controlled by war criminals. They should not be allowed to take refuge under the facade of sovereignty but be exposed to the international criminal justice system. We wish to remind the responsible sections of the international community of Article iii of the Nuremberg principles (1950): “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”..
( The writer is the editor of the Eelam Nation, an online journal)