By Suranimala Umagiliya –
Keith Noyahr, the journalist from the now defunct Nation newspaper was abducted, tortured and assaulted on the 22nd of May 2008, when former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was in office. It is now evident through reports to Court and the media that Keith was released by his abductors after then Minister in Rajapaksha government Karu Jayasuriya telephoned President Mahinda Rajapaksa around 11.30pm on that fateful day, having heard from Lalith Allahakkoon, Editor of the Nation newspaper of the abduction. Strike one for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for initiating the release of Keith Noyahr, who may well have been murdered.
But that is not how events should have unfolded. The sordid drama that is best served with a prosecution and conviction is being turned in to a joke by the former President. Readers will recall that the Criminal Investigation Department revived the dormant investigations in to the multitude of attacks on journalists that even escalated leading to the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Editor of The Sunday Leader. The revival of the dormant investigations took place only after the Rajapaksa regime was defeated. There was not a hum from the Rajapaksha camp till evidence was being unearthed. Lo and behold the oldest excuse in the book in the form of “Political Victimisation” is now being used by Mahinda.
The government and the investigating arms must be rapped for the shoddy and tardy manner in which the revived investigations have been handled. Perhaps the Yahapalanaya big wigs felt it was enough to defeat the Rajapaksa juggernaut with nary a thought given to the families of victims and the impact such criminal acts had on the island nation. With the results of the last local government elections, the Yahapalanaya set with their political futures in mind have set the ball rolling at speed to bring the Rajapaksa clan to book. Twisting Law, Order, and committing Murder,Plunder et al, by an individual or group is low life criminal activity. When it is committed by politicians in power,it becomes a bigger crime. Any self respecting Nation owes it to the people, that her rulers uphold the law. A lackadaisical attitude towards rulers getting away murder, abduction has brought upon degradation and a negative impact on the collective psyche of the Nation. Do they want the Rajapaksa’s back in power ? Shame on those who do.
Mahinda was questioned by the CID at his Official Residence. Why? He has to be equal before the law. Somapala and Sriyalatha, would have been summoned to the 4th floor. Let us not fool ourselves that some are treated more equal than others. Even worse was to witness the carnival like atmosphere with every Tom, Dick and Dirty Harry, gathering at the official residence in support. The newsmen gathered outside were not better than a subservient mob. Mahinda was questioned on the evidence given by present Speaker of the House Karu Jayasuriya. Karu Jayasuriya said on record that he called Mahinda around 11.30pm to protest strongly over the abduction of Keith Noyahr and that he would have to consider continuing in Government if anything untoward was to happen to Keith. Evidence with the CID sleuths show that Mahinda called two minutes after Karu Jayasuriya’s call to Gotabaya who in turn called Intelligence Chief Hendawitharane who called Maj General Amal Karunatilleke. Maj Gen Karunatilleke called Major Bulathwatte who answered the call at a site in Dompe ( now known to be the site that held Keith Noyahr) and thereby Keith was set free.
Mahinda has been afflicted with the same sickness of Duminda Silva, Ravi Karunanayake and Daisy Archchi. “I cannot remember Karu Jayasuriya’s call”, said Mahinda to the CID. Does any sane Sri Lankan believe him? One of his Senior Ministers call him almost at midnight to complain that a prominent journalist has been abducted and unless he is set free the Minister would leave Government, and Mahinda cannot remember such call? That he called his brother who at the time was Secretary Defence, near midnight to follow up and that too cannot be remembered?
That on the following day all newspapers and electronic media in banner headlines addressed the Abduction, torture, assault and the release of Keith Noyahr, and Mahinda cannot recall the mid night call of Karu J and his call to his brother Gotabaya? Is he really fit to be a member of Parliament ? He has amnesia or he is an out and out LIAR. Either way he seeks to dodge the truth which should render him unfit to hold any public office.
The journalists who gathered at his office failed miserably too. They simply thrust the microphones at Mahinda and asked him to sing hymns. Surely there should have been at least one professional journalist around? Why did they not question Mahinda along the following lines,
1. Do you take credit for having saved Keith Noyahr’s life?
2. How many calls do you get at midnight from a Minister threatening to resign?
3. Do you think Karu Jayasuriya, is lying? If the answer is “Yes”, Why?
4. What action did you take after Keith Noyahr was released? Did you call a press conference?
5. Can you remember if Keith Noyahr was abducted? If “yes”, how did you get to know of it?
6. Do you not record all telephone conversations that are initiated/received?
7. Who released recorded conversations between you and murdered Editor Lasantha to the media?
8. Was it before or after Lasantha was murdered that the recordings were made public?
9. Can you remember any of the above?
Sri Lankans should dig deep, unearth and face the bitter truth if she is to move towards creating an enlightened society which allows equal opportunity to all it’s citizen.
Failure to do so would render it to be the basket case of Asia.