By Jayashika Padmasiri –
Today marks two years since the alleged abduction of the two human rights activists Lalith Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan who were last seen on the day before the World Human Rights Day. After this controversial abduction Lalith Weeraraj’s father, a rubber tapper working at Siri Niwasa Watte told the media that he strongly believe that the government is behind this abduction by referring to a statement made by the Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella at a press conference stating that Lalith and Kugan are in police custody, though the police authorities strongly denied this claim soon afterwards.
According to media reports the two human rights defenders Lalith and Kugan had disappeared in Jaffna on December 9th in 2011, while they were organizing a press conference for the Peoples Struggle Movement which was scheduled to be held in Jaffna on December 10th coinciding with the International Human Rights Day: according to reports Lalith and Kugan were last seen by relatives leaving Kugan Muruganandan’s house at Avarangal Jaffna at 5 p.m on December 9th.
The Propaganda Secretary of the Front Line Socialist Party (FLSP) Pubudu Jayagoda speaking about the disappearance which was later confirmed as an abduction said that Lalith and Kugan belongs to the thousands of victims who has gone missing in Sri Lanka in the postwar situation.
“We need to understand why Lalith and Kugan were abducted. They are just two other people who have been abducted from the many abductions and disappearances taking place in Sri Lanka. Abductions are taking place not only in Jaffna but also in areas such as Mattakuliya and Malligawatta. Already from the Malligawatta area 44 abduction cases have been reported. Lalith and Kugan are two people who fought against the many abductions and disappearances taking place in Sri Lanka,” Jayagoda said.
In his view during a time when the North and the South was separated from an iron wall Lalith and Kugan tried to tell the people of the South about the issues of the people in the North, and they tried to tell the people of the North that the people in the South are not their enemies but just a group of people who are suffering just like them. “During a time when the authorities wanted to separate people as Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, Lalith and Kugan fought to unite these races as Sri Lankans. That is why they were abducted,” Jayagoda added speaking about the abduction of Lalith and Kugan.
Speaking further about the politics Lalith and Kugan practiced Jayagoda said that they did not practice neoliberal politics, racist politics but instead leftist politics and that the abduction of Lalith and Kugan represents all the abductions and disappearances taking place in our country today.
This disappearance which took place on December 9th 2011 was confirmed as an abduction after considering the information provided by the wife of Kugan Muruganandan who had received certain information from reliable sources claiming that many people had seen Weeraraj and Muruganandan being abducted by a group of men on two bikes and a white van, on the Point Pedro main road in Nirveli, a village around five km from her home. The abduction of Lalith and Kugan is just another abduction from the many for the authorities in power. But for their family members the situation is different. It is not just another case or a statistic, but an extending mystery where hope and fear are eternally fighting to dominate and overpower the other. After the abduction of his son, Lailth Weeraraja’s father spoke to the media while fighting hard to stop the tears that were glistening in his eyes from falling.
“Minister Rambukwella said that my son and his friend Kugan are in the police custody and that they would be released soon after the police inquiry is over. But they are still missing. So we strongly believe that the army and the government are behind this abduction. My son was not a member of the LTTE, neither was he favoring the government. He just wanted to help people and search for those who had disappeared. I was worried about him, fearing that some misfortune might befall him, as regularly police and CID officers came looking for him. So when I thoroughly advised my son and expressed my fears, in reply he questioned me and asked, “Father how would you feel if I went missing?” And those words touched my heart. So I submitted to his wish and let him go… But just nine days after that incident, my son went missing… and now… I’m living in agony,” Lalith Weeraraj’s father explained.
The tears of a father go unnoticed most often in our society. Whether it is just tears of one father or 20 fathers (parents) belonging to Northern or Eastern provinces or any other part of the country, it is not fair to judge and to dismiss those grievances as incidents failing to reflect the loopholes existing in the country’s human rights situation. This scenario is not only common to Lalith’s father but also to those hundreds of parents and families that are dealing with the reality of the disappearances of their loved ones. Lalith’s father’s tears represent the many photographs mothers and fathers holdup during protests to make their grievances heard, while begging and pleading from authorities to find their missing children.
The Lawyer representing the two missing victims in regard to the Habeas Corpus at the Jaffna Magistrate Courts Nuwan Bopage speaking about the case said, “the matter is referred to the Jaffna Magistrate to conduct an inquiry and to find out the parties responsible for the crime. Initially we had three eyewitnesses to support our case, but now out of fear they are all refusing to appear in Courts or to give evidence. So through circumstantial evidence we are fighting the case. Lalith and Kugan were both arrested and questioned a couple of times before the abduction by both the army and the police while Lalith’s father revealed that Lalith was repeatedly warned by the army to stop doing politics in Jaffna”.
Just as Lalith’s family, Kugan’s family is also waiting for the day they would see their loved ones again. The gravity of the situation is that it is not only these two families, but many other fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers are counting days while living on hope and waiting to see the day their loved ones would return back to them again. Who is responsible for the disappearances of these people? When citizens go missing into thin air in a country, just as dust vanishes in the wind, isn’t it the responsibility of the authorities in power to find out what happened to those people? So the authorities should pay more attention and responsibility to such issues. For the family and friends of missing people, whether the wishes of seeing their loved ones returning back to them again someday would remain only as a mere dream or not, is something that only time can reveal. Nerveless the waiting of these people would continue till the missing people are found, because it is impossible to uproot people from one’s heart or one’s life as trees are uprooted and planted in this society. They will wait, till the day they find their missing loved ones or till they learn what has happened to them and where they are (which now appears as something very distant from where they stand). Nevertheless they will wait, hoping beyond hope and waiting beyond waiting, that someday this distance would disappear (as their loved ones disappeared) and that they will find out what happened to them, because they know that somewhere the mystery is hidden (and buried) deep down beneath this cold earth.
The Penetrator / December 8, 2013
Read he first paragraph, do we really need read more or to write more??…. You say the truth and you get abducted, period..End of story…
Kalupahana / December 8, 2013
Gotabaya Rajapakse, the white van Goon must be tried for COMMAND RESPONSIBILITY for the disappearance of these two individuals in army occupied Jaffna.
This is a crime against humanity and Gotabaya Rajapakse must be held responsible and ACCOUNTABLE and his immunity and impunity along with the military commander of Jaffna MUST END.
Javi / December 8, 2013
How can you dream of better when Percy meeharaka is chair of the commonwealth.(On Mandela:He was an iconic figure who has left an indelible mark on all of us globally.)
Will he go for the “historic, unprecedented state funeral” of the man to brush shoulders with the world leaders, on December 15 in his boyhood home of Qunu.(may be to face Tu Tu Do Do)??? Sure he will so what you gonner do?? 0-0 ☻ o-o
US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will travel to South Africa together with former first couple George W. and Laura Bush.
Another former US leader, Bill Clinton, who was in office when Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, will also attend.
Palestinians and Israelis, Beijing and the Dalai Lama, Washington and Tehran all paid heartfelt tribute to Mandela, describing him as one of the towering figures of the 20th century.
Flags flew at half-mast in numerous countries, including the United States, France and Britain, and at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
“”Once considered a terrorist by the United States and Britain for his support of violence against the apartheid regime, at the time of his death Mandela was an almost unimpeachable moral icon””｡◕‿◕｡ ◕‿◕
justice / December 8, 2013
Chaloka Beyani,UN Special Rapporteur on Enforced Disappearances,at a Press Conference of the UN Media Division at New York said on 24 October 2013 that “Sri Lanka is NOT a state party to the
International Commission for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances”.
He also informed that there are 55,000 cases of enforced disappearences in Sri Lanka,mainly during ’88 – ’89, late ’90s or early ‘2000s.(UN news web)
There is complete indifference to ‘disappearences’ on the part of the government(s).
This may show that the regime itself is responsible,as most probably is the case of Lalith and Kugan.
That the CHOGM attendees would have known this but ignored it,may have been due to some of them too having many ‘disappearences’.
“Diappearences” have become a ‘reality of life’ in our Dharmadwipa.
Native Vedda / December 8, 2013
justice …. “He also informed that there are 55,000 cases of enforced disappearences in Sri Lanka,mainly during ’88 – ’89, late ’90s or early ’2000s.(UN news web)” ……….. This was an understated figure, it could be in the region of 130,000 according sources who were actively counting the disappeared.
Palmsquirrell / December 8, 2013
After Iraq, Sri lanka has the highest number of disappearances.
Park / December 8, 2013
Keli Keheliya is another person who should be charged at the Crime Against Humanity Courts.
Leon / December 8, 2013
Another excellent case for an international inquiry.
Samuel / December 8, 2013
What about the disappearence of Journalist (cartoonist) Eknaligoda ? They the parliamentarians brought some eye witnesses in terms of the journalist saying he is now living either France or Belgium. And those MPs of ruling coaliation stay mum since then. For the victimized family, the situation is like hell out of since then. They should only seek the justice from God.That is the MOST KNOWN example in the country. Jounalist´s wife – openly accuses the rulers of his missing and naming it as a revengeful act against the cartoonist Ekanaligoda
Vibhushana / December 8, 2013
Its a problem with the focus isn’t it really? Tamil nationalists and India consipired and ensured there was a war.
Having done so, the burdon of the responsibility lies with these 2 parites for all consequences as a result of the primary crime.
The human rights of Sri Lankan collective will override Individual human rights of a few. If one chooses violence then this is the fall out one faces doesnt it really?
shankar / December 8, 2013
How can you blame gota when there is such a demand for kidneys from the citizens of the greatest human rights champion of the world,Great Britain.
kali / December 10, 2013
Shankar you Sinkalam. How can we blame you when there is such a demand to hide under a Tamil name and send message of hate.
shankar / December 10, 2013
“message of hate.”Yes,i hate to think of them screaming while their kidneys were being taken out.Nice and fresh kidneys.
kali / December 10, 2013
Sinkalam: mahinda should be like mandela.He should forgive himself for killing upto 40000 tamil civilians and other war crimes against tamils,and without any bitterness( BEST QUOTE to describe a CRIMINAL) in his heart move on and live upto 95. This is the best one you have produced so far which proves beyond reasonable doubt that you are MAD. It might already be too late but it is worth a try so go and see a Psychiatrist before you are taken ill with your sexual symptoms.
Dhaksha / December 8, 2013
In Sri Lanka, there is no freedom of speech, absolutely no criticism for the corruption, human rights violations, and the gradual stripping away of democracy, by the ruling despotic family. For to bring attention to these atrocities, means you are risking your life, being a good candidate for kidnappings and brutal murders. Those who bravely stand up against these dictators, are made into examples, by being made to disappear, and never to be seen by their families again. Life has become cheap in Sri Lanka. Truth is brutally cut short, and there is no one answerable to any of these disappearances….either we have an ineffective secretary of defense, or no one in the topmost ranks of the government wants those missing, found. Either way, all the blame falls squarely on the most brutal and corrupt leadership in this country.
Kamal / December 8, 2013
When law and law enforcing authorities are concentrated under one man’s hand, the ordinary citizens cannot expect justice. The regime is blindly assuming that time will erase these issues, come next march I think the path will be clear. However at the end, it is we the ordinary citizens who will yet again be made to suffer. All good are kept at the upper echelon the rest is passed on to rest of us. We have no voice or no justice.
The SLkan masses keep voting for the same lot ! Wherever there was opposing view the demography in those ares are been changed by force. It seems we are in this for the lang haul.
WINSTON DEVALLIERE / December 8, 2013
“Disppearences” have become a ‘reality of life’ in our Dharmadwipa.
I believe that it’s called ‘NIRVANA” in Buddhism… so perhaps that’s why
the government feels good about disappearances.
In Christianity it’s called the “rapture”.
To Lobsang Rampa it was astral traveling.
To the Rajapaksas they’re all in Paris, Canada, Aussie etc as economic refugees.
I think Rampa has the edge on everyone…save for the body also gone missing.
But all except Rampa were agreed on one thing, you disappear and that’s it : permanent nirvana and the obits are in order.with rampa, well, if you return, time to believe you’re not dead.
Don’t hold your breath for LALITH AND KUGAN TO RETURN.They’ve been sent on a no-return expulsion into space.
Wanna bet on it ? So stop talking crap about”disappearances” and call a thing by its name: KILLED, BURNT AND DUMPED IN THE SEA IN A SACK LOADED WITH STONES. OR SIMPLY SHOVED INTO AN INCINERATOR AS THEY DID IN SIRIMA’S TIME WITH HAPLESS WOUNDED JVPers…still alive and screaming for mercy.whammo !! into the incinerator at the Mt.Lavinia cemetery. That I can vouch for. Others? guess ? if you’re not an utter dimwit.
Safa / December 8, 2013
“Abduction case of Lalith and Kugan postponed till February 12,2014 by the Jaffna magistrate court judge P.Sivakumar today.
Lalith, leader of the People Freedom Movement and his friend Kugan Murugan were abducted in Jaffna on December 2011.
Case filed at the Jaffna court and hearing of this case took place today.
Editor of the Sirasa Tv submitted the statement made by the Minister of Mass Media and Communication Keheliya Rambukwella at the media briefing on this abduction. Minister said Lalith and Kugan are in the government custody.
However judge postponed the next hearing till February 12, 2014.”
It seems they are in Govt custody or is it, were in Govt custody, no more. God only knows as our cheap justice once exclaimed. God knows and perhaps our lesser dogs of war.
A.T.Kumar / December 8, 2013
Unless and until you get rid of the Rajapakses this type of thing will continue since they all our power drunk
Hade Sheriff / December 9, 2013
To whom law abiding citizens will turn to, can we trust the judiciary until present puppet CJ expelled, we should curse all politicians who raised their hands to 18th amendment in Parliament UPFA ok accepted otherwise desciplined
Muslim Congress, Hela Karmaya, LSSP, MEP, NFF (Weerawansa) all responsible
Ravi / December 10, 2013
This information here is not helpful. But I know Kugan from Negambo prison where he was detained for some years (around 2001)under the suspicion of being a member of LTTE.
kali / December 10, 2013
Jayashika: We are all wasting our time looking for these missing souls who are no longer on this Planet. You need to read the Article by Chandraprema ( Author of Gothas War) which appeared in The Sunday Island and posted in the Colombo Telegraph dated the 8th September.
According to Chandraprema they have all been Extra Judicially killed.
Rama / December 11, 2013
gothabhaya the cannibal has gobbled up lalith and kugan.