23 October, 2017

Dawood Appeals To RTI Commission Regarding Presidential Commission Report On Ashraff’s Death

Ashraff

As his loyal supporters remember the late founder of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) M.H.M. Ashraff‘s 17th year death anniversary which fell on the 16th of September, Colombo Telegraph learns that former Chairman of the SLMC Basheer Segu Dawood has appealed to the RTI Commission to release the Presidential report of inquiry into Ashraff’s death.

Ashraff died in a plane crash along with 14 others, including party officials, bodyguards and crew members in 2000. The reason for the crash remained a mystery as no bad weather prevailed at the time. Engine failure was cited as the reason but conspiracy theories abounded. The report of a Commission of Inquiry appointed by then President Chandrika Kumaratunga in 2001 remained under wraps even though frequent demands were made by Ashraff’s supporters for its release.

The appeal made by Basheer Segu Dawood is under Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Act (RTI). His request to release the report has been refused by the Presidential Secretariat. Colombo Telegraph understands from sources close to Dawood that the appeal is pending hearing by the RTI Commission.     

It has been common for such Commission reports not to be released with each President of the day keeping them under confidential cover. Good governance advocates have been calling for the reports to be made public pointing out that public funds are used to operate the Commissions of Inquiry that hold such inquiries. But a welcome precedent was set recently when the Mahanama Tillekeratne report into the 2011 shootings and force used against Katunayake protestors by soldiers and the police during the Rajapaksa period was released after the mother of Roshen Chanaka who died in the shooting, appealed to the RTI Commission. Here too, the Presidential Secretariat had refused to release the report earlier on grounds of national security but had released it after the appeal to the RTI Commission was filed. 

Due to the brutal attack, hundreds of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone (FTZ) employees were hospitalized, some with lifelong injuries. The victims had not been compensated. The Tillekeratne report that was released under the RTI Act contained strong condemnation of the police and army actions. Activists who had tried to get the report released during the past several years, praised the RTI Commission and the Act in helping them to obtain the report during events held last week to mark the International Right to Know Day (IRTKD). 

Speaking to Colombo Telegraph, one RTI activist pointed out that the release of the Tiilekeratne report was due to the knowledge that the RTI Commission will be acting according to the RTI Act and that, under the Act, there was no good reason as to why such reports could be withheld, particularly where they involve allegations of state abuse.

Where the Ashraff Commission of Inquiry report is concerned, this may be a bit different as the report may involve mention of third parties, Under the Act, if third parties are involved and they refuse consent to information being released, it is only the RTI Commission which can order that release, he said.    

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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      do we have a right to know what exactly the reason for this removal or some sort of an explanation.Because Sumana ‘s comments are normally in couched in decent language.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    Interesting why this request!?

    “Under the Act, if third parties are involved and they refuse consent to information being released, it is only the RTI Commission which can order that release, he said.”

    So why don’t the RTI Commission order the release if they have to!?

    The public would like to know what really happened!?

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    I believe the Commissions of Inquiry Act, the law under which the Commissions are setup, permits the President not release findings to the public if it is likely to cause disorder. But this cannot happen in the both the cases of incidents in Katunayake and the helicopter crash resulting the death of Late M. H. M. Ashraff. One thing for the bureacrats to advice the politicians not to release the report could be that if the report also outlines the reason for the helicopter crash, such as wrong procurement of the craft or poor maintenance where the bureacrats (not necessarily the Air Force personnel) are made responsible. It is incidental to note that even the late President Zia Ul Haq of Pakistan too died of a helicopter crash. Let us hope for the release of the report.

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    Keeping such reports secret, which may point to culprits who abused power, and who have been members of the police and/or armed forces, on the lame excuses like “national security” will only encourage impunity among them.
    The rights of citizens to know the truth transcends all other considerations in any democracy.
    The removal of such personnel from state service would strengthen democracy.
    The whole truth is not yet known about the Welikada Prison massacre in which members of police and armed forces are strongly suspected of wrong doing.
    The mysterious death of MHM Ashraff must be divulged.

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    Did’nt he have a lot of powerful contacts in the ME ? Perhaps they could help .

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    He was killed after he refused to join the PA for the election.

    Chanthirikka got all his help to win elections but after winning she turned against him.

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      Fathima,

      At that time Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka was a suspect. Anyway Ferial was in the PA -MR government and nothing happened

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        Tariq,
        Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka was never a suspect. The suspects were Asroff’s own Muslim political rivals.

        When Gadafi visited in the late 70s, he told then Muslims leaders to make Sri Lanka a Muslim country before his next visit, since then money ($ millions) have been pouring in to Sri Lanka from Gulf countries, so, a lot of Muslims have formed their own political parties to become the soul leader of Muslims.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

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    Basheer Segu Dawood is now suspended from the Srilanka Muslim Congress[SLMC] and is more or less in the political wilderness. SLMC Chief Rauff Hakeem who took over the Party after Ashraff, was the person who identified the charred remains of his Leader somewhere in Aranayake . No doubt he would have been the first person to canvass the release of the Presidential report.It is well known in Party circles that Basheer is Persona non Grata with Mrs.Ferial Ashroff and her son.
    Is Basheer making an effort to use this call for the Report as a spring board to enter Muslim Politics or does he have some other motive?

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    More than Mr.Ashraf and his party, it is a question OF PRECIOUS human lives and the STATE PROPERTY AND SECURITY that should receive more serious public attention. Unfortunately so many years of silence has shrouded this mysterious incident. Unless it was a politically motivated killings. one could adduce no valid reason for this veil of SECRECY.

    I hope at least after this undue delay the public will have a chance to know the findings of the Commission’s Report.

    Also I note with awe the way as many as 3 comments removed by the moderator .

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    do we have a right to know what exactly the reason for this removal or some sort of an explanation.Because Sumana ‘s comments are normally in couched in decent language.

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