By Suranimala Umagiliya –
President Maithripala Sirisena must have bats in his belfry whilst former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his infamous brother the former Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa are strutting about oblivious to the carnage left in their wake. Three of them yet dream of continued power at the highest echelons, as if leading Sri Lanka is their divine right.
Current President created havoc when he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, prorogued parliament, and then dissolved only to be thwarted by a resilient Supreme Court. The defining reason for such action trotted out by President Sirisena was a conspiracy to assassinate him, leaked by an informant best described as possessing a low level of cunning which he mistook for a high level of intelligence. He is now known to be backed by a dubious past, may even have contrived this as part of a master plan. Best laid plans of a President and mice fortunately went awry.
If President Sirisena believed that there was an attempt at his life and his resultant action to sack a Prime Minister, a Cabinet of Ministers and dissolve parliament was justified, it poses more questions than one. Let us assume if indeed there was such a conspiracy to assassinate him and the action he took was justified, however skewed it may sound. Can any sane person accept his covering up (not a conspiracy, not an attempt) a murder most foul? If a DIG is remanded as part of such investigation (attempt on his life) why are not the Army Intelligence personnel involved in the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, assault and torture of Keith Noyahr and the assault on Upali Tennekoon remanded? Why is the former IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne not remanded for meddling with the evidence into Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder?
Evidence led into the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge at the Mt Lavinia Magistrate’s Court reveals that it was a rogue Army Intelligence Unit housed at the former Tripoli Market who carried out the murder as well as the attacks on journalists. This unit was under Major Gen. Amal Karunasekera and operationally under Major Prabath Bulathwatte. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, who was the sitting Army Commander at the time when these dastardly crimes took place has made a statement to the Police that this unit was directly under Gotabaya Rajapaksa via Retd Maj Gen. Kapila Hendavitharne himself, the former Intel Chief.
President Maithripala Sirisena must be able to sift the wheat from the chaff. The President and the Army Commander will do well to shed those who have shamed them by resorting to extra judicial killing, torture and assault to safeguard the honour of the rest. The tag “War Hero” will forever be tainted if the present tendency to cover up such misdeeds due to misguided thinking that it is politically harmful remains. If that is the thinking of the majority of Sinhala/Buddhists, the enlightened one’s preaching has been sorely misunderstood.
Be that as it may, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa have yet to retire in shame. They entertain serious thoughts of a return to an extended reign. If a human being has no “lajja” he/she will have no respect for morals, the law or right to life of another. The two brothers must know that the finger pointed at them when Sri Lanka was named and shamed as the worst country to practice journalism. Gotabaya drunk with power, drove the last nail in his infamous interview with the BBC and Hard Talk when in a show of arrogance he snorted “Who is Lasantha?”
Ten years have drifted with none indicted for the murder of Lasantha. There was speculation that Ranil did not wish to see the Rajapaksa duo taken to task as it was to his advantage to play them against a divided SLFP vote bank. That sentiment does not hold any more. The last Provincial Council election results have effectively cancelled such eventuality. Presently President Sirisena has grandiose ideas of contesting the top job once more. This time with his arch rival at the last hustings now turned Ace of Trumps. No “lajja”.
There seem to be a semblance of hope amidst the doom and gloom. The independent Commissions have proven themselves. The people rebelled against Sirisena- Rajapaksa back door shenanigans. The UNP has been given a new lease not due to a great showing at governance but due to fortuitous circumstances. Therefore Ranil will do well to brush aside Sirisena’s protestations and get the investigators to complete the job. This is not to save his future but to make use of the current mood of the people to do the right thing. Lasantha murder, Thajudeen murder, Murder of Journalists in the North, Keith Noyahr abduction, torture and assault, Upali Tennekoon assault must be solved and perpetrators brought to book. The discovery of human remains in Mannar CWE site is another blot on the character of our nation. Evidence is unfolding that this may not be a grave yard for the dear departed.
Let us remember the journalists who laid their lives for us to enjoy a life with such rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. Lasantha and other journalists who suffered such fate should not have died in vain. Let us name and shame those who gave orders to kill journalists. Time long gone must not allow them to forget their dastardly deeds. Let other journalists not forget that too. Let us commemorate such fallen heroes together with the real war heroes. Let us remind Mahinda and Gotabaya that it was during their tenure such deeds were done. Oh, but how could we forget the lengthy list of inhuman activity of such time in our country.
Lasantha was named as a “World Press Freedom Hero”.
Let us continue to remember him.
Let Lasantha be at peace.