By Helasingha Bandara –
One hundred and fifty people had been buried in one mass grave, some of them after having been severely tortured, in a hospital ground, without the knowledge of anyone for almost 25 years. It is almost impossible to imagine how anyone could dig such a large grave and bury 150 in it without the outside world learning about it, particularly in a public place like a hospital. There could have been four parties who knew about this: the murderers, supporters of the murderers, the murdered, and another few who witnessed the brutal act. The murderers and the supporters would not speak about it, the murdered could not speak about it even though they might have wanted to cry out for the whole world to hear and the few who unfortunately witnessed the atrocity could have been denied the opportunity to reveal the secret being pushed into the same grave with others. Thus a secret was buried together with brutally murdered humans for 25 years until an accidental unearthing of some bones .
What does this say
Estimates say 60,000 youth were killed during the JVP insurrection by the armed forces including the police and the civil defense force. They all could not have been burnt by the roadside though some were. This means that there are other similar mass graves around the country. Thousands of people are waiting six feet under for them to be unearthed to tell their untold stories. There must be people who know those sites. In the name of humanity they should come out and show those sites.
Why justice cannot be delivered
The most prominent reason is that Gotabaya Rajapaksha is implicated together with other army Generals. Gotabaya is the President’s brother. Plenty of people can be influenced to protest against any legal action against him. At the time of the murders took place the murderers were heroes for at least one section of Sri Lanka society. Coincidentally many years after, the very same Generals became heroes at least for one community in Sri Lanka. Heroes could not be tried at the time, nor can they be tried now because in the eyes of some they were heroes at that time and in the eyes of others they are heroes now.
The next reason is that the country is full of fools and undignified people. They can be persuaded to do anything for a bun and a bottle of Coke. When Duminda Silva was released from hospital how many people were there to welcome an alleged murderer? There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Bharatha was shot on Duminda’s orders even if it is proved that he himself did not pull the trigger. The people gathered there to welcome an alleged murderer who in fact announced that he was going straight to the Head of this country to be blessed. Where else can we hear a public announcement by an alleged murderer that he was going to meet the President of the country to be blessed, except in a country full of fools? There will be more than enough people who can be influenced to agitate against any action against Gotabaya or the implicated Generals.
Why not SLFP
The murders took place during the regime of the UNP. The rationale should be that the SLFP should investigate all complaints of disappearances, murders, extrajudicial killings etc to bury the UNP forever in a political grave, but it did not. The reason was that the killers belong to one set of families. At a close review it may be revealed that the higher ranking positions of the armed forces including the police were mostly held by the people who have village names such as Daramitipola, Libbokka, Gomagoda, notwithstanding some Silvas, Pereras and Fernandos came into rank and file too. This new class that the British created to do their admin, clerical and interpreting work assumed high social status being closer to the rulers. Betrayals, back-stabbing, selfishness, cunning and opportunism are evils that are not alien to that clan. The foolish sons of such families who could not even pass their OL had no option other than to join the forces upon the influence their parents had in the governance. The members of such families intermarried and exclusive relationships were created. Whether they belong to the UNP or the SLFP it is the same people who hold those positions and they cannot act against each other.
In summary, because the implicated perpetrators are still high and mighty with close connections to the ruling elite, because the country is full of extraordinarily ignorant people and because murderers are protected by the rulers, justice can never be done for the victims of the Matale grave and many other undisclosed graves in the cursed land. Despite the claim of Wimal Weerawansa that most of those victims have been active members of the JVP, a case study that this writer will bring forward in the near future would prove that it is not the case and that the majority of the murdered was the innocent members of other political parties who perhaps jeered at the peril of the UNP at the time, the only crime to be punished with unimaginably painful deaths.