By W. Vishnu Gupta –
The revelation made by Dispatcher of Channel 4, a British public broadcast Television Channel recently on 2018 Easter Sunday massacre in Sri Lanka is not only intriguing but it has added credence to the alleged involvement of Rajapaksa family, security establishment and a well-known former terrorist leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pillayan. The Channel 4 story is not new because many defence establishment personnel including Sarath Fonseka and those who continue the campaign to dislocate Rajapaksas’ grip on power to control state institutions including judiciary and defense/security have implicated the named suspects in different forums. The difference between Easter Sunday speculations and Channel 4 Dispatchers documentary is that this British Public TV Broadcast has managed to produce a real McCoy that every Sri Lankan was expecting. The real McCoy happens to be a whistleblower who is in exile named Hanzeer Azad Maulana, apparently, he has spent 20 years working within the Rajapaksas’ inner circle including Pillayan. According to Maulana, contrary to the innocent image portrayed by hugging babies, addressing gullible innocent villagers as “Ammey, Thaththey” and frequenting Buddhist temples, Rajapaksas have acted as authoritarians and alleged to be the mastermind behind the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge and beneficiary of the Easter Sunday Massacre, his confession further confirms how authoritarian politicians wield power, the lengths they will go to when power is challenged and how they will plot in the aftermath of any political defeat. Most probably this whistleblower was referring to Rajapaksas losing presidency in 2014 and loosing the general election in 2015. They will plot and plot until getting power back to rule, for them, the end justifies the means, typical approach of Machiavellians. For Machiavelli, murder, corruption, conspiracy, war, deception, grand larceny, and hedonistic lifestyles are necessary among other traits or prerequisites to be a MP, Cabinet Minister, Prime Minister, President or King.
Interestingly, Channel 4 documentary has reminded the audience of the unforgiving murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.
“chilling murder in 2009 of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, the government’s most prominent critic, who predicted his own demise and left behind an editorial to be published after his death: “Murder,” he wrote, “has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty” Such violent retribution was, the Dispatches contributors say, believed to be carried out by a clandestine death squad called the Tripoli Platoon.”
Rajapaksas have many questions to be answered, their evasive responses and public statements made in hurriedly organised minor political rallies in Hambantota district, which is the bastion of Rajapaksas have failed to quell the curiosity of voters this time. If the questions are not answered convincingly, there will not be any place for the accused to hide, already it is alleged by the social media that a prominent family member has applied for police clearance certificate needed to emigrate to some country.
However, because of the Channel 4’ s star whistleblower, Azad Maulana’s story, the present government led by unelected President Ranil Wickramasinghe and 134 SLPP MP’s sworn to sustain Rajapaksas’ indirect grip on power to rule have got into an unexpected political conundrum. Particularly, Ranil Wickremesinghe is stuck between a rock and a hard place, He and Rajapaksas must answer the following simple questions to free the state security establishment from allegations made by the Channel 4 expose.
– Who is Hanzeer Azad Maulana?
– Did Maulana work as an aide and translator to Rajapaksas?
– Did Rajapaksas ever meet Maulana, or was he present in any meetings?
– What is Tripoli Platoon?
– Did Suresh Sallay ever meet Maulana?
– What is the reason for demoting Suresh Sallay and sent to Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia?
– Why and when was Sallay in India?
– Did Rajapaksas maintain any direct or indirect link with NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath) ?
– What is the role played by Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pillayan?
Suresh Sallay has denied his involvement claiming that he was in Malaysia at the time of supposed 2018 meeting with NTJ, yet it remains to be verified through a proper and credible investigation. Apparently, Gotabaya Rajapaksa also has not responded to request made by Channel 4 to comment on allegations made by Maulana.
Commissions, the open sesame
It is well known that Sri Lankan governments are well known for appointing commissions to investigate every alleged criminal activity committed by politicos and the state institutions headed by their cronies. As such, there have been many Presidential Commissions and Parliamentary Select Committees appointed by GOSL, all these toothless pseudo investigation bodies have never produced any alleged criminal in a court of law, citing limitations placed in their mandate. However, they have been very comfortable in spending lavishly billions of taxpayers’ money shamelessly. These Presidential Commissions and Parliamentary SCs appear to be clever ruses employed by Presidents and the Parliament of Sri Lanka to protect criminals and to camouflage the involvement of high-ranking politicians in the country. They lack credibility; Presidential Commission is the “Open Sesame” to set high profiled criminals free in Sri Lanka and so is the Parliamentary Select Committees. Ranil Wickramasinghe’s appointment of three-member committee to investigate Channel 4 story is no different, it is a nonstarter in finding the truth behind the 2019 Easter Sunday Massacre.
Shooting the messenger
Moreover, Sri Lankan politicians are well accustomed for shooting who ever brings any news challenging their political dreams. Namal Rajapaksa was the first to shoot the messenger, claiming that Channel 4 has a perennial grudge against Rajapaksa family, what a strange and pathetic premature conclusion. Most likely he was referring to the Channel 4 documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields aired in 2011. Soon after Namal’s tirade, Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a lengthy response on September 7th and termed allegations as “absurd”, and announced it is an attack on Rajapaksas. Unfortunately, Rajapaksas, have failed to understand that the veracity of the facts must be determined in a properly established and legally acceptable forum, because this is not about a case involving a clash between two families: Rajapaksas of Madamulana v. Channel 4, UK. However, this time Channel 4 Dispatcher has brought an equally devastating impact on current president and the previous regimes lead by two other presidents. It is up to all three of them, Ranil, Gota, and Maithri to agree to appoint an independent credible investigation body consists of international judges as demanded by the Catholic community and many civic organizations before it is too late and let the accused such as Suresh Sallay prove their innocence. Hiding behind commonly used bravado that appointment of international judges contravenes the constitution of the nation and impinge on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka is a hoax and has no acceptance among Sri Lankans any longer. The sovereignty of the nation has been raped many times by all national political leaders at their convenience to achieve the personal political objectives and none so far have made any sincere effort to protect sovereignty that belongs to the people. The current regime’s reluctance to appoint a credible investigating body further exacerbates the pain suffered by the Sri Lankan catholic community and above all it undermines every effort needed to free the people from the prevailing political culture built on alleged murder, corruption, conspiracy, war, deception, grand larceny, and hedonistic lifestyles of a club of selected politicos in the country.