President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to appoint the country’s most rabidly racist monk to chair a Presidential Task Force entrusted with implementing the Government’s ‘One Country One Law’ concept has been a slap in the face of minorities and the rule of law, activists and lawyers said.
The idea of handing over a law drafting process to a convicted felon is an outrage, Sri Lankans said on social media, as the country reeled from the shock of the appointment.
Galagodaththe Gnanasara is only out of prison because of President Maithripala Sirisena’s horrendous decision to pardon the monk who was facing a six-year jail term for contempt of court in 2019. He was jailed for intimidating the wife of disappeared person Prageeth Ekneligoda and disappearances campaigner Sandya Ekneligoda, in full view of the magistrate at the Homagama court in 2016. The rabidly racist monk has been at the helm of a hate-campaign against Sri Lanka’s Muslim population since 2012. The rampaging, rambunctious monk has spearheaded at least two major anti-Muslim riots in Aluthgama and Digana.
His elevation as Chairman of a task force entrusted to measure draft laws against the Government’s One Country-One Law policy, which has always been a sophisticated slogan to assert the dominance of Sri Lanka’s Sinhala-Buddhist majority against the minorities, is a new low even for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has made no secret of the fact that he was a president for the Sinhalese people. The appointment is being seen as a direct affront to Sri Lanka’s minority communities who have long been terrorised by the BBS monk and his gang. The appointment of Gnanasara as Chair of the taskforce marks the first time the link between the Gotabaya Rajapaksa wing of the SLPP and the racist monk stands concretely exposed.
The 13-member task force comprises four Muslim representatives including two moulawis but not a single representative from the Tamil community.
The appointment marked the elevation of Gnanasara from “foot-soldier to general” Sri Lankans remarked on Twitter after the news broke.
(why would anybody have thought that? idk.) that said, have to say I did not see this appointment coming. it seems to formalize the collapse of a long traditional arms'-length deniability, not to mention gnasara's rise from footsoldier to general
— Vajra Chandrasekera (@_vajra) October 27, 2021
Farce masquerading as governance/government.
Prez with contempt for rule of law & seemingly no knowledge of basic principles of democracy/gov/law appts TF with no Tamils & 2 religious leaders, headed by a racist monk to draft a law for implementation of “one law-one country”. https://t.co/ofAjB8aDHd pic.twitter.com/YvXI89MdTm
— Ambika Satkunanathan (@ambikasat) October 27, 2021
Colombo Telegraph learns that the decision to appoint Gnanasara as head of this controversial task force might point to President Rajapaksa having ceded near-complete control to his intelligence chief Suresh Sallay.
The State Intelligence Service (SIS) Chief is a long time Gotabaya Rajapaksa ally, and under his presidency, Sallay is the most powerful official in the current Security establishment. Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay is the operational nerve centre of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration, feared by even the President’s closest allies.
The highly skilled intelligence officer had a specific task when Rajapaksa held office as Defence Secretary from 2005-2015, to sow communal tensions in the country in order to keep the ruling family’s electoral prospects steady. At the Directorate of Military Intelligence, then Brigadier Sallay started and nurtured both the Bodu Bala Sena and the Thowfeeq Jamath, which counted among its membership at one point, even the suicide bomber Zahran Hashim. Pitting the two extremist organisations against each other helped to keep the Rajapaksa family’s Sinhalese electoral base fired up and intact. After the Rajapaksa Government fell in 2015, it was revealed that both the BBS and the SLTJ were funded by the Defence Ministry through a slush fund set up for the purpose.
Galagodaaththe Gnanasara is a creation of, and a creature widely linked to, the current SIS chief.
President Sirisena continued to retain Brigadier Sallay as Director of Military Intelligence until the end of 2016. Colombo Telegraph learns that when a military intelligence unit led by Colonel Shammi Kumararatne operating from Giritale was exposed as being behind the Prageeth Eknaligoda abduction in 2010, DMI Director Sallay ensured the Sri Lanka Army paid for high profile attorneys to represent his men.
Colombo Telegraph is now able to reveal that it was then Brigadier Sallay who sent the monk Gnansara to the Homagama Magistrate’s Court, where Ekneligoda’s Habeas Corpus inquiry was unfolding, to hurl insults and slurs against the journalist’s wife in open court. During the raucous incident inside the courthouse, the monk claimed that the entire judicial system was carrying out a LTTE agenda by bringing charges against so-called war heroes. Gnanasara’s intervention in the Homagama Magistrate’s Court was an exercise to discredit Sandya Ekneligoda who has waged a relentless campaign to bring her husband’s abductors to justice, and cast doubt upon her as a LTTE pawn setting out to target military intelligence officers.
Then Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake, now a High Court judge, filed contempt charges against the monk in the Court of Appeal.
The racist monk’s promotion as Chair of a presidential task force has brought questions back to the fore about whether Gnanasara is being “handled” by his original MI handler. For the first time in his career, Maj. Gen. Sallay is in the spotlight, with the Catholic church now raising questions about his involvement with Easter bomber Zahran Hashim when military intelligence was nurturing this extremist group.
As the Government’s unpopularity mounts, Gnanasara’s entry into the mainstream of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration raises grave questions about whether Suresh Sallay has been tasked once more to use the extremist monsters he created nearly a decade ago, to spark communal tensions and violence in order to whip up support for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa within the Sinhalese nationalist constituency. (Sanjeewa Sooriyabandara)
See full presidential gazette declaring Gnanasara Chair of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s latest Task Force: