21 September, 2020

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A Veritable Epidemic Of Government Goons

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena –

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena

Is this Government comprised solely of underworld characters and law breaking Ministers? We may be forgiven for answering this far from rhetorical question in the positive for a multitude of persuasive reasons.

Witnessing law breakers galore

Week after week, we hear of underworld thugs who violate the law and escape with impunity. The latest is Julampitiye Amare identified by eye witnesses as being involved in the recent attack on a rally of the Janatha Vimukthi  Peramuna in Katuwana where two innocent bystanders were killed. True enough, previous governments had their share of goons laying claim to the most picturesque names to boot but really, was there such a veritable epidemic of government goons running amok as we see now?

Jostling newspaper space with this report was the unprepossessing picture of bail being given to Senior Minister Athauda Seneviratne who had allegedly taken on himself to lead a gang of villagers in attacking government property in Warakapola. Both cases are ongoing.

In the first instance, the character known as Amare is in fact a known criminal in the area who had been absconding under the very eye of the police despite reportedly a staggering number of one hundred arrest warrants issued for him. This very same person had been openly visiting the prisons even with all these arrest warrants and despite being a murder suspect. As stated pithily by a judicial officer hearing the matter, if action had been taken earlier by the police, the murders under investigation may never have taken place. As he asked, ‘is this the way that the police treat a murder suspect?

Government responsibility to bring to justice

We would like to go further and ask in a logical extension of that very same question, ‘would the police dare to behave in this manner if political protection was not given to this murder suspect?’ It may be quite easy to shrug one’s shoulders and protest that one must not jump to conclusions in deciding where responsibility rests.

Yet the string of law breakers being afforded impunity in a context where we are told to rejoice because normalcy prevails in Sri Lanka, presents a damaging picture that cannot be just ignored. In the North and East, where a different reality prevails underneath the mushrooming of new hotels and the spruced up cities, complaints or rape and murder do not even warrant all that much of newspaper space.

In the second instance of a Senior Minister allegedly damaging government property, public shock may perhaps be dulled due to the antics of Minister Mervyn Silva who has boasted shamefully to far worse and who is protected at the highest levels of the party hierarchy despite several disciplinary inquiries against him. But again we ask, are the Government ranks peopled with law breakers?

 

Dispensing with the paraphernalia of courts

At this rate, Sri Lanka’s overcrowded prisons will surely burst at the seams and the country’s criminal courts, already heavily overburdened with the ordinary case load, will collapse under the strain. On the other hand, since we are living in a country where the law is taken so lightly to account, perhaps it may be best to dispense altogether with the solemn paraphernalia of courts of law? If we can be in such a sorry situation where one hundred arrest warrants are disregarded and a murder suspect is allowed to move about freely until outraged public opinion (for once) demands some action, what else can be suggested?

Coupled with these developments, we were informed of direct intimidation of the head of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association Nirmal Dewasiri who lodged a police complaint this week that personnel claiming to be from the Ministry of Defence had made inquiries about him from his neighbours. Again, the blatantly open manner in which such intimidation takes place is truly shocking. What is the use of the law and the Constitution?

All sound and fury signifying nothing

Unsurprisingly, public confidence in the police investigations that should take place into such incidents is at zero. Last year’s Christmas Day killings in Tangalle have only resulted in the case being dragged on interminably in the courts with no punishment of the perpetrators even though the facts were starkly evident as to what had occurred.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Defence faults the media for excessively reporting on and analyzing the steep increase in the crime rate and the police spokesman pleads that cases of police torture are exaggerated. Such statements would invoke extreme hilarity if the import of the same is not so tragic for the Rule of Law in the country. If at all, the crime rate and the transgressions of the police are under reported. The focus should be on genuine action on dealing with the virtual breakdown of law and order in Sri Lanka instead of weak attempts to shift the blame from the point at which it is properly due.

Indeed, we still await the implementation of a key recommendation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, to delink the Department of the Police from the Ministry of Defence. Suffice it to say that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not redress the problem till the excessive militarization of the police is reversed and it is returned to a civilian institution. Rigorous distance needs to be maintained from the political command or from administrative command that is an undeniable replication of political command. We may have special debates in Parliament on the deteriorating law and order situation (one such debate has reportedly been fixed for early July) but this will be all sound and fury signifying nothing if these crucial changes do not take place.

A surreal reality of two worlds

It is as if two worlds predominate in Sri Lanka. On the one hand, we have the ostensibly regular level of functioning and then we have this surreal underbelly of political crime and dissenter intimidation in the South while minority targeted intimidation prevails in the North and East. Dangerously, we now accept this as part of our ‘normal’ reality.

And this Government appears to be luxuriating in the belief that it can do anything, say anything and get away with no consequences. This is a preposterous state of affairs indeed.

 

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Latest comments

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    Today’s reports say that witnesses in Julampitiya Amare case are being threatened by his fellow goons.
    One of those threatened, has lodged a complaint to the police. But,no action yet.

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    Nice work – keep it up! I think tho that the Rajapakse are now seriously cornered and running scared… the good times are coming to an end! Lanka needs to prepare an exit strategy for the family of uneducated goons now ruining the country!
    On the one hand the Indians, US, diaspora are upping the ante and on the other the economic crisis caused by gross mismanagement and the criminal incompetent @ the Central Bank who has mortgaged Lanka to keep Rajapakse Bros. afloat is biting despite all the SPIN. Otherwise excellent piece!

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      Gota the goon will first turn Lanka into a Syria and bomb the hell out of the opposition before the Rajapakses give up power. Hence, the post-LTTE military build up.
      Getting rid of the Rajapakses may prove harder than getting rid of the monster Prabakaran if the family is not evicted soon! But D day is approaching and the shit will hit the fan in October when the economy crashes amidst the ongoing drought as the 500 million bond comes due. The Lankan Spring with the recently awakened Dons from the university shall prevail on the streets of Colombo as the folks in Tahrir square in Egypt!

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        A Sinhalese friend of mine with strong Sinhala Nationalist thinking had to say this to me soon after the defeat of the LTTE and the death of its leader Pirabhakaran “Look it is true that we have defeated the ruthless of the North but will not find it easy to defeat the ruthless of the South”. How prophetic he was?

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    Yes, gutty writing and the truth, no more and no less.

    This article should be translated into Sinhala and distributed in Tangalle.

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    In hind sight I tend to admire the suicide bombers of the LTTE. It is a damn disgrace the Sinhalese even can not do that, although I am inclined to avail myself for the country.

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    I salute the writer for thid brilliant article.

    Anandi

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    This is a timeworthy valuable piece no doubt. Proud to have this kind of talented/ brave journalists in our mother land.

    If the authorities were smart enough to bring that Amare promptly before the courts also getting revealed awaiting inforfmation useful in the tracing investigations of the met perpetrators, what I believe is upon putting enormous pressure, our authorities are capable of fulfiling tasks efficiently. So put the balme on them should NOT be made further. Following his arrest, an article published by Daily mirro revelead that the commissioner of the prisons have called for a prompt report from that prison in south – there the resposible authorties will not abscond from the truth behind why the massive criminal was not caught by the responsible police neglecting court order irrespective of 100 warrants against the mentioned crime doer. And the partiuclar Amare is reported to have paid a visit to that southern prison a week ago – then the authorities in that prison (prison director or the related adminstrative personnel cant escape this time easily). So why not this can be more than useful to trace all the underworld thug related that has been cacerning all corners of the country. If there is a responsible minister or secretary there for the portfolio, he has to react promptly, if he or his service personnel are wholeheartely fighting against the crime as a whole – protecting the innocient people.

    If this will further be neglected by the responsible ministry, there is no doubt, that organised crime is sponsored by ruling regime. All these are observed by international communities closely as never before, if the human rights violations will not be redued considerably, the consequence will be that the country will definitely be marginalised by fellow countries before long.

    As one who is very frankly touch with countrys update, I ask myself why our people let things go – that apathetic, why waited that long until two activists lost their innocient lives. If the ruling policos solely make up not wholehearted ones- why cant the lawyers association take due actions being an eye operner to protect the nation – Why is that the frequency of forgetting or sweeping these crimes under the carpert is becoming high as never before in the history?

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    Lawyers who have a conscience and who write with an analytical bent on issues in the public forum like Pinto Jayawardena and who have no political agendas or play to the tune of the embassies/INGOs are rare.

    The tragedy of Sri Lanka is that our public opinion makers are either those who bumsuck the government or those who bow all to the time to the will of the Indians, the US or the Europeans by talking of federalism or the rights of the oppressed Tamils. We have few who talk of the oppressed Singalese as well as the oppressed Tamils.

    This writer is a good exception and the simple honesty of the writing stands out. Sri Lankans do indeed salute writers of this ilk.

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    There’s no use wringing our hands about all this. Do something about it. Next time there’s an election: SEND THE RASCALS HOME.

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      as could be read in one of the comments passed to this forum recently, it is the very same public who have voted for the current rulers not thinking twice- behave as fools further supporting them to be in power.

      No internnational communty, or even atleast half of the nation would agree with them – on any opinion polls carried out by local media, the majority will surely join as – that they are satisfied the way the current regime is ruling.

      So whom to blame- GENERAL PUBLIC (at least the other half of the voters of the country)

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      If this is that easy, it would have been done long back now. Looking back now I feel what CBK was making clear in her end of terms, was merely the truth. Current rulers under MR leadership are dishonest rascals. Whoever keep saying that her regime was also corrupted was not because of her but because of the dishonest majority of the ministers in her cabinet. Kadirgamar under her regime rendered the greatest service asking to bann the LTTE in EU, INDIA, Australia and the US. As SF made clear, her govt was the one who spent billions to purchase high weapanaries to fight the war. In MRs term, they were able to defeat LTTERs millitarily, but the price is that entire world is frowning at us- calling MR as one of the brutal state head (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/cuba-hosted-sri-lanka-preswar-criminal/).

      Current rulers have stabilized their links every corner of the country by appointing their own relatives, close ones, regardless of being the ablities and credentials of the person. Perhaps, the multiple crimiminal surrendered to the police, after JVP forced them to do so, could also have the same blood similar to that of the one in highest office. Gone are the days that our people heard the related issues from undemocratic states of AFRICA, but thanks to the current rulers, now we hear from our folks. Very good example is the position of chairmanship of national carrier-SRILANKEN. His millions of foreign currency together with other valubles of millions had been found in his app – THIS SHOULD BE A PUNISHEBLE ACT according to the law prevailing in the custom dpt of srilanka. But being a close relative to MR, this can easily be forgettable by authorities. The fools that make up the majority just ignore the matter saying something evasively. How can the behaviour be legal is a questionable.

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    Our leaders remind us of Nero when Rome was burning.

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