By Basil Fernando –
When I talked to a Sri Lankan friend about the killings of prisoners which happened yesterday and tried to convince him that people should demand justice, his instance reply was, “ Dhang justice naah”. In the past, this expression meant that there were serious concerns about justice. However, now it has come to mean literarily what it says. It is a statement of fact, of which no one has any doubt.
Regarding the shooting itself, the very first issue is that it should not have happened and would have been avoided if the normal rules and procedures were followed. STF officers should never have been sent to an inspection in a prison. This should have been by prison officers themselves who, if necessary, could have sought the help of civilian police. Experienced officers would have known what to do and how to do it.
That it was done by STF shows that the raid or the inspection was carried out on the direction of Ministry of Defence. Whenever this ministry is involved, killings are usually the result. Earlier killings at demonstrations quite clearly show that.
In any case, those who conducted the inspection should not have carried guns and even, if they did, no live ammunition should have been issued. Further, no shooting should have taken place without the express command of a commanding officer. There should have been an express command not to shoot to kill, but only to use minimum force.
All this and many other questions need to be examined through an impartial inquiry.
However, such an inquiry will not happen and that is one thing about which there can be certainty, going by all the experiences on such matters in recent times.
Now it has come to a point that even the Chief Justice cannot get an impartial inquiry.
All that will happen is that a story will be concocted, blaming the prisoners for bringing about the shooting on themselves. And then that story will be given the full blast of publicity though the state media.
So, who could say that it is wrong to say “Dhang justice naah”