One week after former CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera was enlarged on bail by the Court of Appeal, questions remain about his safety in Sri Lanka, said Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, who added her voice to international concerns expressed for the senior investigator’s security following his release.
In an interview a few days after SSP Abeysekera’s release, Ahimsa Wickrematunge noted that “powerful people” were desperate to conceal information his daring investigations had uncovered about atrocities committed when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as Defence Secretary.
Earlier this week the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council also called on the Government to ensure Abeysekera’s safety.
Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated in Colombo in January 2009. His murder was one of the high profile emblematic cases the CID investigated under SSP Abeysekera’s leadership. The CID investigation led to damning evidence that Wickrematunge was murdered by a military intelligence death squad allegedly operated by then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Since SSP Abeysekera’s arrest in July 2020, Wickrematunge’s daughter Ahimsa has been one of the most consistent voices in defence of the top investigator. Now that he is on bail, Ahimsa says she continues to be concerned for his safety. “I have no doubt that those who kept Abeysekara imprisoned for nearly a year on fabricated charges tried to refuse him medical attention when he contracted COVID-19 and suffered a serious attack and led a slanderous and falsified campaign of propaganda against his credibility and his work, will continue to find ways to harm him,” she said in the interview.
Ahimsa Wickrematunge said Abeysekera’s investigations came too close revealing the truth about perpetrators behind atrocities committed when the Rajapaksa Government was last in office. “Powerful people have a vital interest in concealing the information Abeysekara and his team uncovered during their criminal investigations. For this reason, I do not believe he will ever be safe in Sri Lanka, as long as perpetrators like my father’s killers, Prageeth’s abductors and Keith Noyahr’s torturers remain at large,” the campaigner said.
Responding to questions about finding a way to tell her father’s life story as a journalist through film or biography, Wickrematunge said if she were to ever undertake a book project, it would be the story of trying to bring Lasantha Wickrematunge’s killers to justice. Documentaries could be tricky, she warned, cautioning victim families to work only with reputable professionals from her family’s own negative past experience.While the stories needed to be told, victim families should not be exploited for commercial gain, she explained. ” Maybe one day the right person or team, someone ethical with true passion and dedication will come along and we can explore starting from scratch, but I am not thinking of documentaries right now. I’m thinking of justice,” Ahimsa