By Rajah S. Rajasingham –
In a most damaging story affecting the already poor government fortunes on the eve of the Provincial Council elections, Colombo Telegraph reported that the then US ambassador Robert Blake had wired Washington in 2007 that “[Tamil] children are sold into slavery, usually boys to work camps and girls to prostitution rings, through EPDP’s networks in India and Malaysia.”
Stephen Sunthararaj, an employee of World Vision, a California-based “Evangelical Christian Humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice,” had maintained that children are often smuggled out of the country with the help of a corrupt Customs and Immigration official at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.”
The then Government Agent for Jaffna, K. Ganesh, who was close to the EPDP and the government, had confirmed the story to the US Embassy saying that young women were taken and forced to have sex with between five and ten soldiers a night. For his efforts, Stephen Sunthararaj was first arrested and when his release was ordered by court, white-vanned as he walked out in freedom and disappeared.
Nothing could be worse for the government than this news just before elections on September 21, 2013.
When the Jaffna-based Uthayan had reported on this story some time ago, Douglas Devananda, the EPDP leader implicated in this story, had reacted in feigned anger and filed a case for defamation for Rs. 1000 million against Uthayan, one of over 10 cases he has filed to use the courts to suppress news of his doings.
Unfortunately for Devananda, the court date came up on Sept. 16, five days before polls. Devananda wanted to avoid his own case because the timing in terms of the elections would be bad and give an excuse for further news reports on his activities. So he absented himself from court.
When M.A. Sumanthiran, MP, representing Uthayan, argued before District Judge A.A. Anandarajah, that in the absence of Devananda, the case ought to be dismissed under the relevant law, Devananda’s lawyer Abdul Majeed proffered the excuse that Devananda was sick and could not be present.
If so, argued Sumanthiran, then a medical certificate ought to be produced and Abdul Majeed in turn assured court that that could be done. The District Judge has thereupon set Dec. 9 as the next court date and expects proof on that date of Minister Devananda’s claims of ill-health.
Unfortunately for Devananda, at that time, around 10 AM, he was seen at the Kokkuvil Technical College by large crowds including Minister Dulles Alahapperuma and the provincial governor, General G.A. Chandrasiri, Rtd., laying a foundation stone for a new building for the Open University there. It was part of the government’s election propaganda and pointed reminder to the people of Jaffna of Basil Rajapakse’s promise that if they vote for the government these development gifts would continue and if not they would cease. Devananda’s participation in that ceremony around 10 AM has also been captured on camera as shown here.
It is an irony that Minister of Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella has said of the TNA Manifesto, “We cannot accept it as it contravenes the Constitution of the country.”
It is sad that the government which is so focused on the TNA upholding the constitution is unable to see the folly of its ways. Capturing young children for trading on them for slavery, and using them each to service 5 to 10 of their soldiers a night as confirmed by the then GA himself, is the worst show of respect for the constitution insofar as those actions violate the rule of law on which the constitution hangs.
With that kind of behavior by the government and its ministers to feed the base, bestial needs of its troops using innocent Tamil children, any Tamil would want to have nothing to do with Sri Lanka. In fact the government should be charged with feeding Tamil instincts for separation and promoting disunity.
No worse, perhaps, are brazen lies and disrespect to the courts. It is hoped that District Judge Anandarajah will act forcefully on Dec. 9 without worrying about the Judicial Service Commission under a Chief Justice whose appointment most thinking people question.