I do not mourn for Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra: I mourn for this country that is ours
| by Frederica Jansz
(October 18, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Can anybody tell me why Duminda Silva is not shackled to his bed? After all, here we have a man who by numerous eyewitness and published accounts first slapped and then shot Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.
Even if this account is to be contested, Duminda Silva, at the very least was involved in a shootout, irrespective, of whether or not he pulled the trigger. He is the prime suspect in a murder case. Pray, why has he not been placed under remand custody? Why are there no remand officials standing guard at his bedside?
Duminda Silva – ‘Gota’s man’ Courtesy: Business Today
The man maybe near brain dead, but the fact of the matter is why has there been no magisterial inquiry? WHY is Duminda Silva not under police custody? He would certainly not be the first man in a hospital bed to have been so remanded. Why does the law waver or flounder for a common thug of the likes of Duminda Silva?
Who is this man? What does he do? Run around with a private army which poses off as his security personnel? Slap and pull out a gun on anybody whose face he simply can no longer bear to look at? Anarkali being a case in point.
Is this the man Sri Lanka’s law enforcement authorities are too afraid to confront? Why is the law quaking to follow its own rules?The fact that Duminda Silva maybe severely injured does not in any way justify the non action by the law enforcement authorities in not taking him into formal custody: one must remember that the deceased in the incident died of multiple gunshot injuries. The living have no right to legal immunity by reason of being alive. It is the dead that need justice. What has become of the Rule of Law?
Communications with the Attorney General’s Department in this connection resulted in nothing. The chief law officer of the State, the Attorney General Eva Wanasundara was not available for comment. All efforts to contact Wanasundara failed, despite The Sunday Leader phoning her office seven times over a period of two days and leaving countless messages. This is why we have no answers to the questions raised in this article. The Attorney General’s department also appears to be at a loss for words.
We will in the national interest voice what the Attorney General’s department seemingly cannot do. The law of the land demands equality in its application. Any person implicated in the commission of a cognizable crime must necessarily be arrested and produced before Court and committed to remand custody in terms of the law.
Shame on Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa that he spent nearly two hours at the Sri Jayewardenepura hospital as doctors performed surgery on the wounded thug. That the Defence Secretary, who has publicly denounced this type of violence, spent his valuable time at the hospital, neglecting all other duties of State, biting his nails for the recovery of Duminda who is also said to be a drug dealer and a common hooligan is nothing short of disgraceful. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra himself accused Silva of dealing in drugs before his tragic demise.
Gotabhaya projects an image of no nonsense and moral rectitude together with a military style efficiency in getting things done. What he was doing canvassing for the likes of Duminda and Mervyn Silva is a disconnect in his personality and public image.
This government in fact would have done well to have shunned the likes of Duminda Silva who has not only been involved previously in pulling guns and using goons to intimidate and threaten but has also been an accused in a case of statutory rape.
In 2004, Acting Colombo Chief Magistrate Wikum A. Kaluarachchi allowed an application by Sub-Inspector W. T. G. Wijesena, OIC, Special Investigation Unit of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) to question UNP Western Provincial Councillor Duminda Silva regarding a ‘blue film’ found among 34 video tapes which were taken into custody by officials of the NCPA from the residence of Duminda Silva, who at the time was in remand for the alleged rape of a 13 year old girl.
And THIS is the man Gotabaya Rajapaksa plays godfather to.
Following the shootout at Mulleriyawa six suspects and 16 guns were reportedly taken into custody. Why have none of these weapons yet been produced before a magistrate? Is it not probable that the weapons can and could be duplicated given the track record of Sri Lanka’s police force? What is to stop our equally corrupt cops from doing so?
Why has the law been made an ass of in this country? Why does the law remain redundant for some and active for others?
It has been reported that three months ago, Bharatha had complained to the President that Duminda Silva had given a contract to underworld thugs to murder him. President Rajapaksa had subsequently ordered the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to investigate the alleged murder plot. Two underworld gangsters who were in police custody at that time had given statements to the CID confirming the murder plot.
Bharatha Lakshman had secured a copy of this CID investigation report and informed Rathnasiri Wickramanayake, Minister Susil Premajayantha, Alavi Moulana, Governor of the Western Province, Minister John Seneviratne and some other senior Sri Lanka Freedom Party members about the CID findings.
The Colombo Telegraph in a report said it had learnt from several sources within the ruling party that Rathnasiri Wickramanayake and Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra had met and urged the President to remove Duminda Silva from Kolonnawa and arrest the underworld gangs operating under Duminda three months ago. It was then that the President had stated, “Duminda Silva is not my man, he is Gota’s man”
Three weeks before his murder, Bharatha had met two senior lawyers with a view to initiating legal proceedings against Duminda Silva based on the CID report.
In all of this, what on earth was President Mahinda Rajapaksa doing? We now know. He was simply waiting for another murder, for more bloodshed on his doorstep while he looked the other way. What is one more life after all in this whole culture of impunity? Shame on you Mr. President and shame on your brother Gotabhaya, both of you are a national disgrace.
30 years of conflict have eviscerated the very concept of law and order in this country. From the 1970s onwards, killing became the norm in terms of dealing with subversion and dissent.
However in this era of peace the tendency of the state apparatus towards brutal and arbitrary violence has become a glaring anachronism.
Last year, the crackdowns on the underworld with it summary executions and bodies displayed in public rather than creating a belief in the restoration of the Rule of Law only generated a profound sense of unease regaring the state of law and justice in this country.
That the state’s only means of dealing with suspected criminals is cold-blooded murder reveals the profound lawlessness that pervades the institutions; the courts, the police and the parliament.
The number of criminals killed while supposedly revealing their hidden weapons has become a dark joke as has the entire idea that this country maintains a functioning criminal justice system.
In a sense, the situation is like that of an amputee who reports the presence of a phantom limb. We believe the police, or justice system should uphold the country’s laws. These once did exist. But the glaring and horrific reality is otherwise. In Sri Lanka there is a gaping void between justice and the adherence to law by organizations tasked with upholding them.
This latest shootout at Mulleriyawa has brought to light what has been the reality for decades –the rule is no rule and that force is the only solution to any problem of law and order. That this force is directed so widely and so arbitrarily is now a very profound problem in itself.
Initially, the country’s brutalized public responded positively to the spate of executions and the general consensus welcomed murder as an effort to cleanse society of its underworld. But the incident in Mulleriyawa has made it patently obvious that the culture of impunity prevalent in the forces of law and order –the taking of life without trial or consequence, threatens not only notorious criminals but society as a whole.
This will surely not be the last shootout Sri Lankans will witness courtesy of our politicians. Remember the unscheduled performances we have all been witness to on some of our TV channels by deputy minister Mervyn Silva. This behaviour would have left no doubts among foreign observers about the state of human rights in this country, while it also increased growing fears among Sri Lankans that there is no protection for them against marauding ruling party politicians and their officials.
Recall how Mervyn Silva instructed his cohorts to tie up a government official—a Samurdhi Niyamaka – to a tree with a rope he had brought along and humiliated the hapless official before the public. The ‘crime’ committed by this public official was that he had not attended a conference called by the minister for the eradication of the dengue carrying mosquito. This kind of medieval punishment imposed on public officials is unheard of in contemporary times.
The pint sized politician with his king sized ego apparently had informed TV channels of his intended derring-do and wanted it recorded for public exhibition. Silva was seen posturing before the hapless man and barking orders into a cellular phone before he took off in his vehicle. The next day, he told parliament that the official concerned had voluntarily subjected himself to this treatment. The victim’s colleagues thought otherwise and staged vociferous demonstrations against Silva the next day.
Was this not a serious assault on the Rule of Law and did it not violate the constitutional provisions of Article 11 of the Constitution which hold that no person could be subjected to torture?
This is quintessential mob rule. Under normal circumstances, can a citizen be humiliated in public by being tied to a tree and the sadist be allowed to go free?
This is not the first time that Silva has committed such outrageous acts and been immune from state action. The case when he stormed the Rupavahini Studios with thugs to attack a director of news and irate employees justly turning against him, and the incident was aired live on their channels, is all too well known. There are other instances where this Mickey Mouse character had attempted Rambo like acts and got away because of his official position. The question whispered by the cowed down public is: Why does President Mahinda Rajapaksa tolerate this blatant thuggery? In fact he seems to encourage it because in his second term as President, Silva had been given a post of deputy minister. Pray, for what public service performed has this post been conferred on him?
And why does Silva keep repeating these idiotic performances which even a jackass would refrain from doing? Rightly or wrongly it is being whispered that all these are performances produced and directed by Rajapaksa Bros. & Co to divert attention from greater problems faced by the people.
It is inconceivable that a government which boasts that it has now reached the status of growth of a Middle Income Country would smear itself with charges of medieval torture and mafia style shootouts. But wittingly or unwittingly it is happening. Mervyn Silva and his counterpart Duminda Silva are by all accounts kicking into the Rajapaksa goal.
We seem to be on a roller coaster ride to anarchy. Oh! What a waste!
“Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity chok’d with custom of fell deeds
….shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men groaning for burial”
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
I do not mourn for Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra: I mourn for this country that is ours.
(The writer is the editor of the Sunday Leader, Colombo based weekly. where is piece appeared)