23 February, 2024

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Mass Graves: Lack Of Political Will & Culture Of Impunity In Sri Lanka Exposed

The failure of successive Sri Lankan governments in finding out the truth behind Mass Graves has been exposed in an island-wide exhaustive investigation by five civil society organisations. This detailed investigation meticulously reveals the government’s systematic interference with investigations – a country the UN rated second in the world for
unsolved enforced disappearance cases.

Continued political interference in order to protect the interests of the Sri Lankan military and their political masters, the report emphasised. “After three decades and twenty attempted exhumations, only a handful of bodies have ever been identified and returned to families. We all know tens of thousands of bodies lie in shallow graves all over the island, so we can’t describe this dismal rate of progress as bad luck – it’s a clear lack of political will,” said Brito Fernando of Families of the Disappeared.

A documentary “In Plain Sight – Searching for Truth Behind Sri Lanka’s Mass Graves” revealed the connection between disappearances and mass graves in Sri Lanka by focusing on different narratives, including those of affected families and loved ones.

The discovery of a Mass Grave in Matale where 155 bodies were exhumed in 2013 implicated ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as a suspect already identified by a Presidential Commission of Inquiry. He was the district military coordinator in 1989 in Matale where hundreds of disappearances happened in 1989. In spite of a group of UN experts writing to the Government of Sri Lanka this year about the status of investigations into him and other alleged
perpetrators there was no reply.

“If those involved in the JVP era mass atrocities including Gotabaya Rajapaksa had been promptly held accountable, then the mass atrocities in the civil war and further impunity might have been avoided. Accountability is not an optional exercise – it’s essential for building a future for all Sri Lankans,” said Yasmin Sooka, executive director of the International Truth and Justice Project in South Africa. “The guarantee of non-recurrence remains elusive,” she further added.

Irrespective of the places where mass graves are found, investigations have been stymied. “There is total lack of political will with regard to mass graves, investigations and enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka,” said K.S. Ratnavale, executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Development who has represented families in mass grave cases.
If the Sri Lankan Government is serious about dealing with the past, it must commit to having international observers at all exhumations of mass graves, the authors and the institutions of the report have stressed.

“We are good at burying in this country but not at unearthing the truth,” said Bashana Abeywardane of Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka who co-authored the report.

Click here to read the report: Sinhala Tamil and English

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Latest comments

  • 19
    0

    Truth Be told…
    Till the justice system is fixed, we should not expect anything different.
    The justice system can only be fixed when Sri Lankans begin to appreciate one another as equals.
    Till such time we are ready to face reality, come together and seek a permanent solutions to the present predicament, the status quo will remain.

    • 15
      1

      I think Lord Buddha should leave this country as long as his preachings are violated and misused by the people of this country and rulers.

      • 8
        5

        “I think Lord Buddha should leave this country “
        *
        He left this world 2500 years ago.

      • 6
        1

        Does Lord Buddha live in this country? His religion, which was based on the true teachings of buddha, had long since departed from them. The wearers of the red monk uniforms, by their activities, have become in every way that of underworld men.

        Some famous people’s name, others do their scam business. Also, false monks in the guise of Lord Buddha, wearing red robes, make every effort to keep this hidden tendency alive.
        Most of them entered the monastic life because parents thought they would not be able to raise their children unless they offered free food and other necessities to temples.
        So, because of the loss of parental care for those child monks, their childhood is subjected to various abuses. Psychologists believe that age 3 to early adolescence is critical to the future development of any Homo sapien child. Those drug addicts, gold necklace robbers, rapists and other criminals are proving today that it is impossible without them.
        So, if we would go for a survey today, each and every temple across the country has given a birth to a criminal in that uniform. This is undeniably the truth. Those laity from rural corners to urban areas, they are frustrated by monk violent acts in ths country.

        • 4
          0

          LM
          Very true.
          Only the truth will set us free.
          Keep telling the Truth brother.
          Thanks for your honest unbiased relentless efforts as always.

      • 9
        1

        Ajith
        I have to agree with you.
        I Remember how our Buddhist monks behaved when 60 helpless Rohingya refugees landed in Colombo?
        Buddhist monks spearheaded a merciless assault on them. They had to be evacuated to another country.
        That is how buddhist our Buddhist monks are. It is a damn shame.

        • 7
          1

          The truth is world gave refuge to millions of srilankens in our war era.
          . Saddest reality is our Hamaduruwo [monk mosquitoes] did nt agree to even those Rohingya refugees.
          .
          That proved the level of our Buddhist ☸️.
          .
          Alas Hypocrites !

  • 13
    2

    The justice system is compelled to act as if SB are above the rest. So how can all humans who are born equal all over the world, receive justice from a false belief system in action. All SL citizens also are equal before the law and should have equal protection of the law.

  • 25
    0

    The whole nation / Sorry Lanka, is now a mass grave. Take a count of those those died from starvation, under nutrition , lack of health care, unaccounted Covid related deaths, legal and illegal (cover up ) mass burials, victims of 30 years Civil war, two insurrections, people who were made to disappear by our own governments, political killings, kidnapped and killed by govt forces, white vanning, govt organized pogroms, underworld killings (reported daily) , victims of 75 years political corruption / scams / mismanagement/ bankruptcy / failures/ dysfunctional systems/ drug peddling, . . . . . . . . . .

    • 17
      1

      Today news “SL in brink of medical crisis” 1) there are only 2000 specialist doctors right now instead of official 4,300, country had before crisis 2) 350 migrated so far, and another 300 about to retire 3) delay in annual transfer list, probably due to political influence 4) This year alone ( just in 6 months time ) 25 deaths due to gun violence reported. Unofficial count ?? 5) we are standing on ground filled with skeletal remains and a (sorry) country rated SECOND by the U.N, on mass graves, said HR activist Brito Fernando. He further opined “we are a race that respect the dead and dispose remains in a respectful way ( highly questionable ?????) . But today we are stepping on a ground which is filled with tens of thousands of human skeletal remains found from countrywide mass graves”. From Fools paradise we are now a mass grave paradise”. I wonder, ‘did Rajapaksas mention mass graves as organic farming “???

      • 1
        0

        The possibility of mass graves for those who may die at the hospitals due to lack of medicines cannot be ruled out. It may be better to cremate the bodies to avoid identification.

    • 11
      1

      chiv

      “The whole nation / Sorry Lanka, is now a mass grave. “

      Maybe, isn’t it why the armed forces in collusion with Saffronistas are building Vihares on top of these graves? No one dares dig these places of worship.
      And in most cases when remains of dead bodies are recovered some Archaeologists are ever ready to bury truth. It is sad public do not have access to their reports or in most cases public is either ignorant or uninterested.

      nimal fernando discourages the public and preventing them from digging.

  • 16
    0

    Only the powerful will win in Sri Lanka. Their victories are hollow and beneath contempt, but there is no justice for the poor or weak. The state does nothing to protect innocent people if they are weak or poor and lack influence. Grand criminals thrive with impunity if they are on-side with the power-elite. That includes members of both major political camps and their acolytes and sycophantic enablers. One has to merely observe the parliamentarians who have a track record of crime and who continue to break the law with impunity, importing heroin, ICE and engage in all sorts of acts that destroy the country, its people and its environment. The only way to end this disastrous trend is for the people to awake and claim back their country from the vermin who oppress them.

    • 1
      2

      Dear Lasantha,
      .
      You advise revolution
      to get rid ourselves of Ranil Wickremasinghe and the Rajapaksas.
      .
      However, if there is an election, you advise us to vote for the NPP, something that I heartily approve of. I’m rather afraid of revolution, but I have bought myself a red T-shirt, as i explained to nimal fernando, and to old codger, here:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-typology-of-sri-lankas-presidential-candidates/
      .
      Now I find that AKD has been talking in Melbourne; in fact I heard it live; and I have stated that in a comment that I have submitted below the YouTube which anybody can now listen to. Were you there in person? I hope that we will soon have an article by you on that meeting.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQf-Md_tRQ4 – AKD, 73 minutes from Melbourne, Australia, on 24/06/2023
      .
      What to do? I’ve never been outside Asia. Almost starving in Bandarawela. I met AKD in Bandarawela on 21/02/2023 in Kanmark Hotel before the meeting commenced. That video does not appear on the Web, probably because there was a very powerful ceiling light BEHIND Anura. I drew attention to that a few minutes into Anura;s speech; he turned round and realised, but somebody from the other side of the auditorium said that they could see. The local organisers ought to have attended to it, but didn’t. So, no video.
      .
      This is the thing; we all have to do our bit.
      .
      tbc
      .

    • 1
      1

      CONTINUING
      .
      We all make mistakes. I didn’t want so much bold in my previous comment.
      .
      That evening meeting was meant for the business community; I gate-crashed, since I;m an old retired teacher, who should, perhaps have attended the Badulla rally in the afternoon.
      .
      This entire meeting was in Sinhala, (that was all right, since all Tamil businessmen know Sinhala. At the end, we were allowed ample time for questions. I was reluctant to ask because I had had the luck to have quite a long chat with AKD before the meeting,
      .
      The final contribution was by me. I complained that at an earlier pocket meeting in Gaswatte, no Tamil was used (I don’t know the language). Also, there was no time for questions.
      .
      These are over-sights. No hostility towards me later These are the 19 candidates for the Bandarawela Municipal Council:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYUllV6XgJQ&lc=UgzW3q79rkdn33c_6Et4AaABAg

  • 3
    2

    “We are good at burying in this country but not at unearthing the truth,”
    I would have thought that cremation was the way to finish things.

    • 5
      1

      “I would have thought that cremation was the way to finish things.”

      How about Acid Bath?

      • 1
        0

        Unsurprisingly you missed the point about burial and cremation.

    • 1
      2

      SJ,
      “cremation was the way to finish things.”
      I was on the scene at the time, and had the impression that there weren’t enough tyres to go round.

  • 3
    4

    Talk of “serendipity!
    .
    I saw this article, and sent off an email saying that I intended to make a comment here. Only then, after sending that email did I look at the article.
    .
    I find that I have emailed the author, Bandula Idamegama. This link is in the article;
    .
    https://itjpsl.com/assets/ITJP_MassGraves_report_v5.1.pdf
    .
    Very neat computer work by him! When I passed out of Maharagama Training College, I was sent to Kandegedara, in the Badulla District, in the middle of Sarnia Group in January 1971. Just a couple of days ago, I made reference to Lakshman Kiriella’s brother-in-law, Philip Jayawardena who had been my classmate for twelve years, in three schools. Now in New Jersey. Well, he was Assistant Superintendent on the smallest Divisision, Plaiderie.
    .
    https://www.historyofceylontea.com/tea-estates/estates-registry/sarnia–2895.html
    .
    As you click on that link, you will see the two-storey manager’s “bungalow”. And who was the Manager?
    .
    https://www.historyofceylontea.com/ceylon-publications/feature-articles/memories-are-made-of-this%E2%80%93recollections-of%20tea-planting-in-the-old%20days-by-vicki-vanden-driesen.html
    .
    The father of that article in Perth, Western Australia. I have never seen her, but Dr Ameer Ali may be able to find her!
    .
    Last week I read another fascinating account – I’ll find it later!
    .
    What all this shows is how close 1971 was to the Colonial Era, and this may help you understand how the JVP came up.

    • 3
      1

      There is much more that I have to say, but at 03:52 am in Bandarawela, it is time to turn off the Dell (btw nimal, I forgot to tell you that her RAM is an extravagant 16 GB. Over-powered! I hope that HT will not start talking about snakes!)
      .
      After all nobody interested in snakes would be seen dead on a 35-year-old CM 125 Honda, however much the resemblance to a Harley-Davidson.
      .
      https://www.bikesrepublic.com/featured/most-expensive-motorcycles-of-all-time/attachment/harley-davidson-cosmic-starship-1-million/
      .
      Does Ramona’s husband own one of those in Pittsburgh, PA?
      .
      What is the time in New Jersey? I emailed Philip at 3:19 am.
      .
      Tomorrow, I shall say more about tiny high-jumping Ananda Idamegama, then in about Grade 5, trained by Vivian Blaze. I had just entered Peradeniya in 1982 (back-door?) as a second-year student, when I met Ananda as a Senior Engineering Student, and a JVP Student Union leader who performed heroics in July 1983, safeguarding Tamil students.
      .
      Will SJ please confirm?
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandaawela

    • 3
      0

      ‘What all this shows is how close 1971 was to the Colonial Era, and this may help you understand how the JVP came up’.
      I have neither read the article nor any of the comments.
      Something just doesn’t seem to jive.
      How can Sinhala_Man who appreciates the hardships of Tamils adore JVP so much.
      You may just be loving AKD, and not JVP itself.
      If that is the case, I should not continue.
      If you are in love with JVP itself, please get back for me to continue.

      • 1
        1

        Nathan, I know that this may be a bit difficult for you to follow. Sorry that I’m such a nut!
        .
        Anyway, Ananda was highjumper, and I met him again in 1983. Looking at some Rajan Hoole articles (plural) written in 2016 may help you:
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/university-of-peradeniya-may-1983-when-majesty-stoops-to-folly/
        .
        If you are keen, this will be a rewarding experience. The JVP dominated Student Council did its best to protect Tamils. This was investigated by a Commission headed by Kenneth de Lanerolle. The JVP themselves were under fire from the “UNP junta” over a November 1982 clash with the Establishment which retied Justice Udalagama inquired into. Please try to explore the Hoole articles of that period, and the comments, among them many by SJ, who hadn’t yet decided that I am such a pain!
        .
        Last night I shot off emails to Bandula Idamegama and Philip Jyawardena, but I haven’t yet heard from them.

    • 3
      0

      Talk of Zemblanity [Zemblanity is the opposite of serendipity, meaning that it is an unlucky or unwanted, but predictable, event. Although it might be difficult to imagine 😕]
      Is the reality with the affairs of this island nation.
      .

    • 2
      0

      “The father of that article in Perth, Western Australia. I have never seen her, but Dr Ameer Ali may be able to find her!”
      😵‍💫😵‍💫🤯🤯🤯

      • 3
        0

        OC,
        If anything comes from sinhala_man about the whereabouts and locations of the people met – this has gone that far now.

        Whether Kiriella and his relatives are SM’s classmates or others, the self-proclaimed English scholar may be thinking that CT readership is very interested in the gossips.

        I really don’t know what kind of person this man is disguised today. Is there anything different about him than Mad Champa, who is dying to play trumpet in favor of Putin?

        • 2
          2

          “leelagemlli”,
          .
          It may be that I’m juggling so many strands that it is a bit difficult for you to keep track of what I’m saying. However, I’m trying to be accurate and unambiguous.
          .
          Nothing that I have said is untrue, and I think that what I say is relevant..

          • 2
            0

            Sinhala_Man / June 24, 2023

            Your writing style is clearly unique (comments filled with identifiers, bold text, and providing lots of personal information, etc.).
            :
            But please check first whether we want personal information of X or Y.
            When you start writing, you explain every detail about different people (location, relationships and various other personal details). I sometimes feel, will the people you refer would ever allow you to do so … whether they like it or not, you continue.. .. ?
            According to my understanding it should not be. You are the only commenter repeating that. This is very unique to you. They’re not necessarily dirty gossip, but by no means necessary. This has nothing to do with the accuracy of the information. SJ, OC, MF, Buddhist1, NV and others ever do?

      • 0
        1

        Sorry, oc,
        .
        I see what you mean. I linked you to an article by Vicki Vanden Driesen. She lives in Perth.

  • 3
    0

    ‘There is much more that I have to say…’
    .
    :)

    • 2
      0

      Paul, LM, Nathan,
      I suppose we will all reach this stage eventually, but not so fast.

  • 3
    0

    It takes all kinds and CT wouldn’t be CT without Sinhala_Man. He is enthusiastic about those he believes in. OK so he does go all round the houses to make a point, I have teased him about this myself, but one can see that he has a good heart and is sincere. Compare his comments to the hate filled words of PK and others. S_M is ok, I don’t know him, but I like him.

    • 1
      0

      Paul,
      .
      I can only imagine what you would do to SM’s comments.
      He is a dedicated person, but often he is off topic addressed by CT articles.
      .
      His assumptions are “facts” to him and he does not accept anyone else’s thoughts.
      .
      Why is he inclined to see things that way? He always repeats and comes up with “even me” etc. According to him he is not good at Sinhala language, but he recommends Sinhala links for AKD’s videos. I have no idea if he checks them with a translator/interpreter. However, it is becoming too much.
      Just because he childishly loves AKD and AKDISM, should we all follow him like the sadu sadu effect of Sinhala idiot Buddhists?

      Recently SM wrote something about “bastard”. I’d love to know how some CT readers figured it out.

    • 3
      0

      Paul
      Comments that get too personal harm serious discussion.
      There are a few too many racists that spill communal venom from different corners.
      Very few read CT to for serious discussion and even fewer make serious comment.
      Look at the lighter side of life, and that includes CT.

  • 3
    0

    SJ, thank you.

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