22 September, 2018

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Unheard Sounds And Faint Memories Of ‘Bloody’ White Vans

By Vishwamithra

“All faults may be forgiven of him who has perfect candor” ~Walt Whitman

Gotabaya and Mahinda

In the questionable days of the Rajapaksa regime, the most dreadful sound, amongst many a sound of shooting in Rathupaswala, Katunayake and post-war Jaffna, was the one that you did not hear: a white van parked outside your home. How many men and women were forcibly shoved into the van and taken away and threatened, their bones smashed, and spirit drained, one may never know. Among those countless shrieks and screams and unbridled impunity to those who hurt innocent men and women who happened to hold a different view from that of those in power, their broken noses and shattered bones might yet be bleeding.

Those who wrote a different story, different from the garbage thrown out by the state-owned media and sycophants of the regime garbed in officials’ dress, had vanished. The heart-wrenching saga of a wife going from one government desk to another is still being written in many a newspaper page, yet she doesn’t seem to get any plausible answer. Prageeth Eknaligoda was no ordinary journalist who happened to write the Rajapaksa-fed flattering stories about the glories of the First Family’s far-fetched and exaggerated triumphs. Eknaligoda’s disappearance has been in the realm of news stories that would haunt the reader’s curiosity for many an year. Those government politicians at the time either maintained a muted demeanor or those in the then Opposition tried hard to bring forth this unbelievable tragedy to the attention of a placid public, invariably and tragically fell short. Prageeth Ekneligoda was supposed to have written some investigative piece which was allegedly devastating to the collective personality of the First Family. It is more akin to a mad dictator’s reaction to an unfavorable account of a nasty act committed by the Family.

Prageeth Ekneligoda’s disappearance cannot be rotting away in an empty, socio-political quarry forever. Evan in the unlikely event of a Rajapaksa comeback into governance-territory, the body of Prageeth, still breathing or not, has to be produced (habeas corpus) to reach a finality. Otherwise the rule of law is absent; investigative arms of the basic governing body of any society cannot just be cut off in order to conceal the evil deeds of a democratically elected Mafia bosses. The ‘fixers’ of a greedy and power-hungry members of a ‘Family’ need to be exposed but how can that elementary distinction of the rule of law be made to exercise its basic function if the present-day rulers turn their eyes and ears the other way? One can still remember how the infamous Alfred de Zoysa of the Kalattewa fame was convicted of murder when the bodies of those who were murdered were missing. Neither State-sponsored terrorism nor an impotent non-response of the State is any answer to legitimate grievances of a wailing public.

But the irony of the situation is even more heartbreaking. A government that was ushered in on a podium of eradication of corruption, nepotism and impunity from the rule of law, seems to be even more entrenched in its own mass of lethargy, indecision and saliva for money. While a sad cloud of the Prageeth Ekneligoda saga is still hovering over a docile and ineffective government, those who are accused of executing this dreadful deed on a freelancing journalist and his family are still free. And the answers don’t seem to be forthcoming. That is not a complementary commentary on a Yahapalanaya government. The net-effect of such placidity and indifference to the real world is the likelihood of the return of the villain- the Rajapaksas.

On top of the Prageeth Eknaligoda case, the incident of the daytime murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Editor of the Sunday Leader, the premier newspaper that went after the corrupt practices of the Rajapaksas, too weighs heavily on the those who are charged with the investigation and pursuit to an end of its legal process. Two and half years is long enough time for the investigations to produce a result, one way or the other. The snail’s pace at which the judicial processes are meandering gives room for suspicion and distrust in the totality of the process. Is someone deliberately instructing the investigators to go slow or not to proceed along the lines which are getting too close for comfort for some close members of the former First Family? The inquisitive public is getting weary of this disgustingly sluggish and tortuous snaking.

Lasantha Wickrematunge had friends in high places. The then circle of diplomats and foreign envoys, especially those representing neo-liberal Western and North Western Europe, exhibited and adopted a curious, keen and encouraging stance and embraced Lasantha’s fearless attitude towards going after the corrupt and degenerate. In the eyes of the public, reading or otherwise, there was only one party that had the motive to silence Lasantha Wickrematunge. That was the regime of the Rajapaksas. Into whose closets Lasantha looked and what degradation or decomposition their contents were in, we are not able to see. Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder is a gruesome reminder of what political power, gone to the fringe, could do not only to a worthy man, it is even more of a reminder of that power that could be mustered to thwart the freedom of expression of a people, a fundamental right of human society.

Along with a the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda and the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge came the Rathupaswala and Katunayake murders of innocent civilians who chose to exercise their fundamental right, protesting against the government policies. The murder of a Tamil journalist attached to the ‘Udayan’ newspaper has been swept under the carpet. All these are among a crowded field of journalists such as Upali Tennakoon, Keith Noyahr, and Poddala Jayantha against whom violation of human rights had been committed.

But what stands out like a brutal reminder of ignobility of a ‘Power Family’ is the mysterious killing of Thajudeen on unbelievably personal grounds. The evidence has emerged connecting very high-up personalities at the time to this murder and the public is still awaiting finality, not to mention  the Prison Riots that claimed more than twenty five lives of inmates.

These are all crimes, plain and simple. Killing is a crime. It is the principal and most horrendous crime one can commit. If the criminals are not found and convicted and punished, the rule of law, upon which every civilized societal structure is founded, collapses. Either anarchy spreads or authoritarianism of a ‘Family Junta’ would begin its heinous grip on a docile and totally breakable society. The battle for such a choice between two revolting options has been fought by the Joint Opposition (JO). Theirs is ostensibly for a faster-developing and a more orderly society. Faster-developing yes, but more orderly is loaded with frightening potential for the control of our basic rights; for control of minds and of every aspect of our lives. That is certainly not an enchanting prospect.

Every member of the Joint Opposition and every financier of that movement, if left to his or her own devices and demeanor, would be a dangerous parasite in our midst. Bringing back a democratically defeated political force that is controlled at the center by corrupt and evil predators of one single family is no option for the civil sustenance of our society. 

But what is even more disheartening and depressing is what lies at the end these arguments and debate. A government that is purported to be founded on Yahapalanaya is sadly lacking in focus and seems unaccustomed to the vagaries of political storms. Yet overcoming a potentially damaging no-confidence motion, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe is basking in a false sense of relief. If he fails to pursue the wrong-doers of the last regime and bring them before the rule of law and justice, if he once again fails in that crucial task, then he might as well say good bye to power, come next elections. If, on the other hand, he does succeed in bringing the Rajapaksas before the rule of law and secures unforgiving sentences that go with it, Ranil Wickremasinghe might have a fighting chance, that again if he manages to contain a squabbling Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and a league of Muslim parties.

The choice before Ranil Wickremesinghe is, to use a worn-out cliché, as clear as crystal. However, it could be extremely unpleasant, not to others but to himself. If he intends to remain as leader of the United National Party and also is infatuated with idea of contesting the forthcoming Presidential Elections in 2020 as its candidate, he has only one single choice: vigorously go after the Rajapaksas and their henchmen and pursue that judicial process to a successful conclusion. If, on the other hand, Ranil Wickremasinghe opts to stay out of the said Presidential Elections and yet continue as the UNP leader, then that might offer a more pliable leverage to would-be contestants such as Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake.  

The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com      

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Latest comments

  • 8
    4

    Thank You Old Codger.As a physician I see Lanka after independence as a young individual with unlimited dreams and ambition but with repeated abuse by the most trusted family members year after year( politicians) and neglected by the care givers and doctors (the public/intellectuals), now diagnosed with malignancy which has pretty much eaten up the whole body, flesh and bones and in excruciating pain waiting for an end, and we the ignorant are now going through stages of Grief ( in some also Guilt) including Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and last but not least Acceptance (which I prefer to call as healing).In my case I am depressed but fervently hoping to reach that last stage so that I can move on with my life.

    • 17
      0

      tamilguardian.com/content/editorial-island-impunity …
      NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE IN A COUNTRY DEVOID OF HUMANS OF GOOD BREEDING DECENCY DECORUM HONESTY & HAVING RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS & EQUAL RIGHTS. IT IS OVER RUN BY TWO LEGGED WILD ANIMALS POSING AS HUMANS WHO WILL RUN THE COUNTRY

      • 0
        0

        TNA is supposed to be the opposition of those who are running it. they do not have their own eelam, so that is a problem.

    • 4
      0

      .Look at the 2 State Thieves.
      Sitting there and asking for pardon at a Dane from Lord Buddha.
      Do they have any guilt????

    • 3
      0

      The picture accompanying this post says it all.

      Chiv your diagnosis isn’t far wrong.

  • 11
    1

    after the JVP’s drama the next one awaiting to unfold is the cabinet reshuffle. Any way MY3 has said that not only the local significance internationally acclaim is necessay to be appointed a minister next time around ( on which count MY3 will be the first person to be disqualified). This will clearly poin to the possibility of SF beicoming the minster in charge of security. If he is appointed all murders and killers will be behind bars within weeks and there wont be JO and the former first family left to contest for next presidential election. This is the only chance for MY3 to continue as President for 2nd term.

    • 2
      6

      bulath
      So you think those who voted in the recent LG elections will reverse their decision? What will happen if Rajapaksa from prison cells request the people to vote for one nominated by him. Probably you may be aware what happened in Maharagama. All Pohottuwa nominations were rejected, so they asked the supporters to vote for “Bicycale”, a bunch of people from an adjoining area no body knew about.
      Another thing. Other than SF himself none other present parliamentarian is serious about putting Rajapaksa family in jail including Ranil and Sirisena. You are brainwashed with hatred by CT but how many read the CT English edition you think?
      Soma
      (I am a Sinhala Buddhist and a Rajapaksa supporter)

  • 6
    1

    If Gota was the political master for rajapaksha era white vans, then RW was the political master for Batalanda era white vans, jeeps and green tiger mobiles. The end purpose was the same for the victims, torture at best, death at the worst! There is a lot of baggage on Ranil’s shoulders that he cannot just case away as “baggage, I don’t remember where they came from”. Let us be fair Gota nd RW can share the same dock if they like!

    • 2
      0

      thrishu

      “then RW was the political master for Batalanda era white vans, jeeps and green tiger mobiles.”

      The state has had Chandrika (SLFP) and Dr Mahinda as the head of the state from 12 November 1994 – 8 January 2015 consecutively for twenty years. It is strange Ranil was not taken to courts. Why didn’t both presidents let their functionaries to take actions against Ranil.

      While you were carrying Gota’s b***s you could have persuaded him to go after Ranil, legally of course. Why didn’t it occur to you for 20 years Ranil’s victims were denied justice although a different party was in power and in the mean time Ranil was also allowed to occupy the second important seat of power?

      Aren’t you bull s******g as usual?

      • 0
        0

        Hello kallathoni fake vedda, hanging on to other peoples tail coat again. You never learn, do you? The answer to your question is our politician are only talk no action regarding human rightes and law and order. When in power their focus is how to steal the most from the public treasury, foreign aid and misappropriate public land. When it comes to mutual national asset stripping, the competition is who would strip the most. For example, that guy jayasundara was dealt with by the courts for helping asset stripping for ranil’s mates in his time. He was thrown out of his job, only to be reinstated by MR to advise him on how to do better on asset stripping. As to dealing with criminals that tortured, maimed and killed the citizens in the country, whatever they were, they were the bargaining chips that they stake between them. Got it! BTW, I hope Gota will find your balls when he comes back to power, to crush them as he crushed VP’s, your gad!

        • 1
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          thrishu

          “You never learn, do you? “

          What is there to learn from a South Indian Kallathoni convert and a card carrying racist?

          “I hope Gota will find your balls when he comes back to power, to crush them as he crushed VP’s, your gad!”

          While Dr Gota (DSc) looking for my b***s will you be carrying his? There are a few who love to carry his. A time share scheme would suit all of you.

  • 0
    0

    People try to bogusly attack Nagananda who is a superb lawyer. He learnt the trade in UK, a civilised western country. So unlike us he can see both sides. There’s an internet campaign to make Nagananda the common candidate. He may not succeed but this shows how much people love him. He exposes all the corruption in the judicial system. Sugandhika is superb – a brave young woman. I hope she will not be silenced, and will keep us with the good work. Corrupt judges and lawyers are attacking the duo but they are strong. Don;t give up Naganada and Sugandhika please; on behalf of us, the silent majority.

    The group is strong as Ranjan and Dharshana Handungoda are involved (another superb guy). I have included these noble foursome and Dambara Amila Thero in my ‘shadow cabinet’. See and comment:

    Ranil for Prime Minster and Environment Minister, Nagananda (from National List) for Justice Minister, Sugandhika (from National List) for Public Administration, Ranjan for Social Service, Dambara Amila himi (from National List) for Minister for Law and Order, Sarath Fonseka for Defence Minister, Anura Kumara Disanayake for Minister of Labour, Ravi Karunanayake for Finance, Mangala for Foreign Affairs, Darshana Handungoda (from National List) for Speaker, Akila for Education and Cultural Affairs, Swaminathan for Hindu Affairs, Hakeem for Muslim Affairs, Jayawickrama Perera for Buddhist Affairs, Thalatha for Women’s Empowerment and Bathurdeen for Industries. This country will beat all other countries in the world.

    • 0
      0

      Kumari – You should have given Hakeem “Women’s Affairs portfolio” because of the Kumari file that is still with Medamulana Meeharak!

    • 0
      0

      Wow, Kumari has escaped Mahinda Rajapakse.

  • 0
    0

    Every country gets the government it deserves. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just be part of a selected few – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle will continue. One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace, good people don’t go into government. The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of a good government. A people free to choose, will always choose peace, not ours. We are walking along the edge of a precipice.

  • 2
    0

    Bulath, I concur with your sentiments save the last sentence. MS does not deserve a second shy. He has upset the apple cart from the word go and now he does not know whether he is coming or going. As he has said we never know when he will set fire to the entire system, and PM will be forced to strike his breast Saying “Mea Maxima Culpa”. So much for good governance.

  • 3
    4

    Thanks to Ranil’s misguided ceasefire with LTTE under Norwegian intervention, more than 200 LTTE suicide carders and intel people infiltrated to colombo during 2002-5. During CBK period people should remember how LTTE was successful in exploding bombs all around cmb. It was only during MR’s period this menace was controlled. That was thanks to the excellent counter insurgency technique called white vans. If not for white vans, the LTTE would have burnt down colombo during the final war. They had set plans and even had taken actions to implement it. Remember how RW the mega idiot remove road blocks in cmb even before signing the so called CFA.

    Thanks too white vans, people in SL are living safely

  • 1
    0

    Good People like Nagananda Kodithuwakku, Sugandhika are making a voice for us the down trodden sacrificing their own life and limb. The corrupt lawyers in this country are making big sounds to scare them and seal their mouths. But the fearless duo will not stop. They will continue to expose corruption. The lawyer who convened a meeting in the Public Library is doomed, the whole world now knows he is scared and trying to save his corrupt colleagues.

  • 2
    2

    Basil hora is comparatively better than Gota hora as Gota hora was a number 1 criminal who murdered lots of innocent people including the Welikada murder. Some say Gota was close to Basil when making illegal money because of the MIG deal, Avant Guard deal, stealing Lalith Kotalawela businesses and giving them to his stooges, amount to billions. Both are number 1 womaniser the only difference is that Basil went for any age group Gota was selective. He went for film actresses (though one was in her early fifties – she, the beauty. was given a Defence Consultant Post!) and service women (tri forces).

  • 3
    0

    DM Thushara Jayarathne is doing a yeoman service to the country beaming certain illicit sexual behaviours of various prominent Sri Lankan parliamentarians. All the stories are authentic. Thushara must be allowed to return to Sri Lanka from Switzerland and garland him at the airport when arrived. Also give him ‘deshamanya’ award.

    Deshamanya awards must be given to Naganada Kodithuwakku, Sugandhika Fernando, Dambara Amila himi, Dharshana Handungoda and Emil Van Der Puten,

  • 6
    0

    The gang of 16 are shameless Bloody bast…s.
    I have never ever seen a set of nincompoops in my entire life.

  • 0
    0

    Its all coming to light slowly..
    http://www.itjpsl.com/reports/special-task-force

  • 0
    0

    I have a question directed to Rajapaksha haters. Can you separate your hate towards Rajapakshas and your love (if there is that) towards your motherland?
    I myself don’t hate any politician or any ethnic group, I have no need to send anyone to prison, but what I would like is to have leader/leaders who can develop the economy of the country, conserve the environment, defend the sovereignty and physical integrity of its land and thereby ensure the dignity of its people including minorities and the majority. I can see that being achievable via a smart economic policy, compassionate social policy, and a multicultural ethnic policy, this constant hate campaigns of Vishwamithras, Tisaranees, Sarath de Alwis’s do not offer any answers, they only spew out vitriol against Rajapakshas. For onece why don’t they provide a set of concrete ideas to make Sri Lanka even better than now.

    • 0
      0

      wannihami

      It is counter productive to hate anyone and waste of energy as well.
      On the other hand why are are you keeping a clever (you think), measured and deafening silence on those who hate minorities, genuinely concerned human rights champions, women, gays, those who want to investigate all war crimes, ………………

      You are a typical Sinhala/Buddhist racist, hypocrites, ………….. you type nonsense.

      “I can see that being achievable via a smart economic policy, compassionate social policy, and a multicultural ethnic policy, this constant hate campaigns of Vishwamithras, Tisaranees, Sarath de Alwis’s do not offer any answers, they only spew out vitriol against Rajapakshas. “

      Please stop pretending to be a do gooder, a compassionate commentator, …
      We saw adhoc economic policies of a corrupt killer regime designed and implemented only to enrich those who were in control of the state institutions and military machine.

      Many wonder as to why b***s carriers like yo get offended when genuinely concerned people objectively look at the state of affairs during the period when the Kleptocracy headed by clan chief and his siblings have had absolute control over state.

      How did you benefit from the Kleptocracy?
      How do you personally hope to benefit from it in the future?

  • 0
    0

    Thought RW also had a torture chamber history, and this writer expects justice from him ?
    Sounds like the writer is from Mars.

    • 1
      0

      RAK

      “Thought RW also had a torture chamber history, and this writer expects justice from him ?”

      Why didn’t Dr Mahinda who served initially as PM and then as president for 10 years investigate Ranil’s torture chambers and put him in prison? Is it because the same state torturers continued to provide service to Dr Gota and his other war criminals?

      On the other hand why don’t you get the police to investigate and charge Dr Gota as well as Dr Ranil?

      Did you intent your question as a clever one?

  • 0
    0

    The Batalanda Commission report recommended action against Ranil W.
    Is this still valid?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batalanda_detention_centre

  • 0
    0

    Batalanda Killer killed JVP kids and he was listening from the other room.but the Crime is killing suspected suicide bombers, black tigers, drug lords who sold the drugs for the masters of the 31% who wants to dominate the 695 of the majority of the majority. Ranil wanted to save money paid for EMBALMING, he made them all burned.that is how Ranil saved money for the country. I heard even the man from Polonnnaruwa know those stories. speaker mouths were protesting these they were just doing propganda for those masters and that was not for money. Thye expected some power in the new system.

  • 0
    0

    Here is an incident during WhiteVan era and non-WhiteVan era (i.e. now).
    Remember the Norach-cholai billion dollar white elephant? WhiteVans delivered messages to Power Generation Engineers warning them of consequences over adverse comments. They kept mum.
    Today the same Engineers are threatening trade union action over delay in planning future needs! Who is the master-mind behind it? You guess!
    Just before the Northern Provincial Council election a candidate’s house in Vanni was surrounded by WhiteVans. The masked men got ready to go on the rampage when the leader got a call. With military precision they left, leaving a thoroughly shaken candidate and supporters. The then NP Governor Rtd Major-General (or something) GA Chandirasiri dismissed the episode as ‘an internal squabble’.

  • 0
    0

    A convicted murderer, rapist Gonawila Sunil, the guy responsible for prison riots in 1983 was pardoned by JR. Finally the guy became a JP for all island a body-guard of Ranil, then Edu minister.
    1977 has not only opened economy, but many other things in SL history.

  • 0
    0

    Many tortured/ raped/ murdered victims are still awaiting JUSTICE, but the current government is not at all bringing the cases to a conclusions. They are letting them to roam freely.

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