Victims and rights activists including the daughter of slain Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge are dismayed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to name former IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne as Commissioner to the Office of Missing Persons.
This is the second highly problematic appointment to the Office mandated to investigate the truth about thousands of persons missing and disappeared in Sri Lanka.
On May 20, the Parliamentary Council, which ratifies President Rajapaksa’s nominees to so-called independent commissions, recommended the former IGP as a member of the Office of Missing Person (OMP).
Wickramaratne has been linked to the conspiracy to conceal vital evidence in the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder investigation. The former IGP was questioned by the CID in connection with efforts to derail the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder investigation in 2009, after three police officers provided statements alleging as IGP, Wickramaratne had directed officers from the Mount Lavinia police to deliberately conceal evidence including the slain journalist’s notebook, found inside his car after he was murdered.
Tweeting about the appointment on Sunday (30), Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of the slain Sunday Leader Editor said the appointment proved President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s contempt for victims of atrocities. As IGP, Wickramaratne had “derailed investigations” into her father’s murder, Wickrematunge claimed.
As IGP, Jayantha Wickremaratne derailed investigations into my father’s murder. Appointing him as @ompsrilanka Commissioner proves @GotabayaR’s contempt for victims of atrocities. Heartbreaking for victims of #enforceddisappearances @SP_Eknaligoda & others still seeking answers. https://t.co/nGJEQu6J2f pic.twitter.com/EeNtAQ1iXP
— Ahimsa Wickrematunge (@awickrematunge) May 30, 2021
“Heartbreaking for victims of enforced disappearances Sandya Ekneligoda and others still seeking answers,” Wickrematunge’s daughter tweeted.
Wickramaratne went to Supreme Court to pre-empt his arrest after he was questioned by the CID about the whereabouts of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s notebook found inside the journalist’s car after the murder. In March 2018, former IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne received a stay order against his arrest by the CID from the Supreme Court.
The former Police Chief became a person of interest in the CID’s Lasantha Wickrematunge murder investigation after statements were made by three police officers, including a former DIG, that evidence had been concealed or destroyed to botch the investigation into the journalist’s murder on Wickremaratne’s directive.
An interim order staying the former IGP’s arrest by the CID was granted by former Supreme Court Justice Eva Wanasundera.
Former Justice Wanasundera was the senior judge on the bench that issued a stay order against Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s arrest by the FCID in connection with the 2006 MiG-27 deal. Details about the corrupt military procurement was extensively reported in Wickrematunge’s Sunday Leader newspaper when Gotabaya Rajapaksa held office as Defence Secretary.
The 20th Amendment was enacted, granting the Head of State untrammelled executive control, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has actively undermined independent commissions and state agencies tasked with delivering on accountability and reconciliation by appointing tainted officials to lead them.
In July 2021, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Wanasundara Chairperson of the Bribery Commission.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa named former Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyratne OMP Chairman in December 2020.
The appointment was made after Abeyratne, in his capacity as Chairman of the Presidential Commission investigating political victimization determined that several military officers indicted by the Attorney General on charges of abduction and murder should be exonerated and were victims of a political witch-hunt.
Among the accused Abeyratne exonerated were Wasantha Karannagoda and dozens of former Navy officers indicted for the abduction and murder of 11 Tamil boys in 2009 and military intelligence officers, including Lt. Col. Shammi Kumararatne who are indicated on charges of abduction and conspiracy to murder journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
Both the Navy Abductions and the Eknaligoda disappearance are emblematic cases before the Office of Missing Persons that Abeyratne now chairs.
Activists fear this latest inclusion of Wickramaratne as commissioner at the Office, will not only ensure OMP investigations reach a dead end, but will also endanger witnesses and victims who have provided sworn statements and testimony to the formerly independent office, activists fear.
The OMP, which has functioned nominally since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in 2019, formed the cornerstone of the Government’s assertions at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva that Sri Lanka had the domestic capacity to pursue truth and justice for victims of the 26-year civil war and two violent insurrections.
The caseload of missing persons complaints before the OMP is in the tens of thousands. Under the Chairmanship of President’s Counsel Saliya Peiris the OMP made several proactive interventions, including by funding the excavation and investigation of a mass gravesite in Mannar.
Sri Lanka’s disappearances caseload is the second larges before the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances. Cycles of political violence have established a clear pattern of enforced disappearance being used a tool of state terror and repression against critics and dissidents, rights groups say.
In March, the Government insisted that as a sovereign nation, it must be permitted to pursue reconciliation and accountability strategies to reckon with the legacy of war nationally, through agencies tasked with truth-seeking and reparations like the OMP and the Office of Reparations. Both offices were established by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government, in line with its post-war transitional justice commitments to the UN and other international partners. The SLPP-led Opposition opposed the establishment of both offices when they were being enacted by statute of Parliament.
Sinhala_Man / June 1, 2021
So many things we take for granted are getting called into question, emphasising that once we begin to undermine any process, the entire system is going to come crashing down.
This cynical move is by the government. We must be grateful that fora like Colombo Telegraph exist to prevent the worst excesses.
How do we fight against foes that are stronger than us? Our hearts must go out to those who suffer unjustly.
However, I also feel relief that this website appears now to be working normally after two days on which little seemed to move. This emphasises how valuable the service that is provided by CT is.
Let us use these resources responsibly; this may not be a profound statement, but it is the best I can think of to express joy of a sort that the site is working normally.
Sugandh / June 2, 2021
Dear S_M… Appreciated your poignant commentary on the state of affairs.
More than ever, the need of the hour is building bridges and breaking down walls that divide us within our circles, local community, village, or town. Grassroots level work that the good folks must do. I do believe our good man, SIMON, has a grassroots approach.
As we often witness here on CT, we must remember that the bad work harder on destroying bridges and raising up walls.
I truly do believe that much of the citizenry is misguided and emotionally riled up by divisive forces.
We have to encourage and support leaders who can inspire a new nation; we need a new generation of leaders like MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam. It would be amazing if someone like him organizes a new national party and brings together the best of the country from each region to break the age old mould of dirty politics.
We need a rude awakening New Brand.
Mahila / June 2, 2021
Please correct me, if I am misquoting a Sinhala Adage;
“Investigating sleuths of a robbery seeking advise obtaining from the Robbers’ wife Soothsayer to apprehend the Robber”
MyView / June 7, 2021
…………….We must be grateful that fora like Colombo Telegraph exist to prevent the worst excesses……………..
Well if you said “to expose” instead of “to prevent”, I am with you.
With the limited scope of the CT readership and its followers, the impact it has on the SL public to prevent, is a drop in the ocean. Sad that the more “public reaching media” prefers to highlight stupid utterances by third raters.
Sugandh / June 1, 2021
The psychopath continues his defiance; befitting his presidency, he has elevated the worst that this country has to offer, even to the OMP. 6.9 million have outdone themselves.
Ashan / June 2, 2021
This should surprise no one….Nandasena has appointed, and surrounded himself with the lowest of the low in our society, war criminals, felons, murder suspects, one individual found guilty of murder of children and pardoned, and unqualified criminals, who should be behind bars right now. They are all in his debt, and will not hesitate to commit more crimes for him if commanded to do so. You can judge a leader by the people around him, and who his cronies are, and this leader shows he is somehow connected to all their crimes too by appointing criminal in high places. Perhaps many were committed at his orders. What kind of image are we projecting to the rest of the world?
AYATHURAY RAJASINGAM / June 2, 2021
This is the outcome of supporting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for passing the 20th Amendment.
chiv / June 2, 2021
I guess Geneva, Suka and U.N will be thrilled hearing this. Of course it
is Lankas sovereign decision.
N. Perera / June 2, 2021
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.
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chiv / June 4, 2021
It is not even a day since I wrote my comment Sooka responded.
GATAM / June 2, 2021
Looks like more to come. That is why Gota is bringing this crook back into action.
Easton Scott / June 2, 2021
>once we begin to undermine any process, the entire system is going to come crashing down<
The question is when?
This utterly arrogant, repugnant, brutal and murderous regime knows no bounds. Its hubris is immeasurable, and as sure as night follows day, its nemesis will come.
Can't come soon enough for me.
Interestingly, has anyone noticed that it's almost impossible to find anyone from among the 6.9 million jokers, who will admit to having voted for Nandasena, or for the pohottuwa?
rohanun / June 2, 2021
Ahimsa is on twitter!!!
rameshhettirachi / June 2, 2021
Is this Ahimsa Wickrematungas account?
Captain Morgan / June 2, 2021
This is mind-boggling! NGR is thumbing his nose at all the citizens of this country and even at the rest of the world. He has demonstrated repeatedly that he is a Psychopathic War Criminal. He should be sent first for “re-education and rehabilitation” and after straightening his brain should be despatched to the Hague to face trial for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. He must be made to feel like the captain of the Titanic when the ship was sinking. Anyway, this is happening slowly.
Sinhala_Man / June 2, 2021
Disgusting man, he is. Is Gotabaya.
Yes, Captain Morgan; I agree with all that you say.
Damn it; we’re citizens – have always been.
Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) of Bandarawela
leelagemalli / June 3, 2021
Elephant is in the room, but nobody raises the questions. BHEESHANAYA is filled in the mindset of the public. Many seem to count it well… looking at the heartless reactions of Gota led leadership. How can he bring wonders , if he is not able to manage small issues ? He let the DRIED PUMPKIN – Wasudewa to make such silly public statements ” we will get a big compensation…. damage ” haha … how can 82 year old WASIDEA to fall that low level ? Is he suffering from later day epileptic ticks?
People are made to believe, that GOTA could deliver than any other experienced predessesors to him.
As for me, all is seen, very much like to that NAGAYA-CARRIED- FAKE RELICs to so called most sacred KELANIYA RAJA MAHA VIHARAYA… the fake story went viral to even most sophisticated youth in the country wihtin few hours. Most of them, just followed their punnakku drinking PARENTs and worshiped themselves the ” relics”:
Yet today, not a single EXPERT in media would seem to have the audacity to question, why general public of this country is caught by MEDIA mafia of some media institutions.
University dons stay as if their behaviours are no different to that of AMAZONIAN sloths.
Plato / June 2, 2021
The logic and reasoning of the President in his appointments are simple.
Well, he reckons that the note-book of Lasantha Wicrematunga went missing. This carried damning evidence. Thanks to Ex:IGP Jayantha Wicremaratne!
So, therefore he needs to be appointed to the Office of the Missing Persons [OMP ].
Who has the last laugh is it the Executive President or the 6.9M. voters who unleashed him?
asokaliyanage / June 3, 2021
She tweets and it’s a news story 😒