President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa vowed his government was actively pushing to have charges and prosecutions dropped against military and intelligence personnel during his weekly dialogue with the village in Giribawa, Kurunegala on Saturday (6).
The President who has jailed key investigators like former CID director SSP Shani Abeysekera and whose government has vowed to run a “KP-style operation” to bring former CID IP Nishantha Silva back to Colombo claimed intelligence officials were being held on absurd bogus charges. “Those cases are still going on – we are trying to get them dismissed” the President informed the people of Giribawa during a long speech about his grievances.
These cases were filed at the whims of the international community, the President charged.
“The former government put intelligence officers in prison. The Navy Commander who was in charge during the war is still suffering because of this persecution” President Rajapaksa said, referring to Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, a man the Attorney General of Sri Lanka has put on trial for murder of 11 young men by a group of his sailors.
Nandasena Rajapaksa’s comments come amidst the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where the Sri Lankan Government is trying to make the case for a national accountability mechanism to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations and other political crimes to justice through the local courts. Government representatives are repeatedly informing the member states that Sri Lankan justice system has the capacity to investigate and prosecute these crimes, that the UN has called emblematic of impunity and often involved state security forces, while resisting international efforts to push for accountability. Sri Lanka is facing an uphill battle to convince the Council. A revised draft of the resolution on Sri Lanka shows the language tightening as weeks of negotiations wind down, a clear indication that the core group bringing the resolution is confident of securing the votes at the Council to adopt it.
The UNHRC will likely set up a mechanism to collect and consolidate evidence led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights when it adopts a resolution on Sri Lanka at the end of the current session. The need to preserve evidence is paramount because of how Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government has actively suppressed and unravelled investigations against security forces personnel and regime loyalists implicated in major human rights abuses and other high crimes. The evidence could serve to facilitate trials against perpetrators later in Sri Lanka, or another country in the world where foreign nationals can be prosecuted for breaching international law.
President Rajapaksa told his campaign rallies ahead of the 2019 presidential election that he would “acquit and dismiss” what he called “absurd” charges against military personnel on day one of his presidency. While this did not happen as planned, in 2020 the President pardoned Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake, an army sergeant convicted and on death row of the massacre of eight Tamil civilians in Mirusavil in 2000. The victims included a 5-year-old boy. He also appointed a Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimisation that has exonerated every soldier and senior military official accused of grave human rights abuses and political murders – including the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, the abduction and assault on journalist Keith Noyahr, the attack on journalist Upali Tennakoon, the abduction of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda and the abduction and murder of 11 Tamil youth by a gang of Sri Lanka Navy personnel. The Commission has tried to stop trials against these accused and recommended that the Attorney General dismiss all the charges against the military men.
The remarks followed a 17 minute frustrated outburst about the allegations against his government based on the report of the Commission on the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019. Defending President Maithripala Sirisena, President Rajapaksa claimed that the UNP Government was “trying to heap all the blame on the former president” when the 19th Amendment had stripped Sirisena of all his powers. Rifling through the massive report by the Commission which he had taken with him to Giribawa, the president regularly read out excerpts to show that the Commission had found the previous Government’s inefficiency to be the reason the attacks could not be prevented.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is however concealing several volumes of the Easter Sunday attacks even from the Attorney General on grounds of national security, raising serious concerns about what those documents could contain about the real origins of the Easter Sunday bombings.
Towards the tail end of the speech to Giribawa residents, the President appears quite out of his senses, giggling hysterically to hide what is clearly his rage over the social media meme sensation ‘ස FAIL’.
“Some people say that I have failed. <giggle> I have not failed. I fought the war for 20 years as an army officer. As defence secretary to President Mahinda Rajapaksa I ended a 30 year war. That is more than enough for me to get an honourary degree. This presidency is just giving me bonus marks. I have passed a long time ago now I am working for my double PhD <giggle>”
The tagline ‘ස FAIL’ has spread like wildfire on social media and is now linked to virtually every criticism of the former Lt. Colonel’s government. His remarks at Giribawa indicate that the meme has caused the President severe irritation, just like SJB MP Harin Fernando’s reference to him by his first name “Nandasena” in a speech in Parliament earlier this year.(By Janakie Mediwake)
See full video of President Nandasena Rajapaksa’s outburst here: