20 January, 2022

Blog

US Designation Of Sri Lankans – Seeds Of Hope For Victim Families

Victim families and human rights groups have welcomed the designation by the United States Government of a Sri Lankan naval intelligence official allegedly involved in enforced disappearances in 2008 and 2009, as well as a soldier convicted of extrajudicial killings of Tamils in 2000 but then controversially pardoned[1]. The two named individuals are Chandana Hettiarachchi and Sunil Ratnayake respectively.

Lt. Cmdr. HMPCK Hettiarachchi (left)

Lt. Cmdr. HMPCK Hettiarachchi was a naval intelligence officer and a prime suspect, who absconded from justice, in the Fort Magistrate’s Trincomalee 11 abduction case, as well as one of the accused who was acquitted by an all-Sinhala jury for the killing of Tamil MP, Nadaraja Raviraj[2]. According to Sri Lankan court documents, Hettiarachchi allegedly ran one of two special intelligence teams responsible for abductions and disappearances, operating mainly from Colombo but transporting detainees in vans to the naval base in Trincomalee[2]. In Colombo, he is alleged to have worked closely with the aide-de-camp to then Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda. Only this week, Karannagoda, who had been charged in the same court case, was appointed as the Governor of North Central Province after the new government decided not to pursue charges against him. While former Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was pardoned in 2020 after being convicted of the murder of 8 Tamil civilians in 2000 including three children. His case was one of very few cases where a soldier had ever been tried for war crimes in Sri Lanka and his pardon caused consternation internationally, signalling that domestic accountability is now an impossibility.

Mass Murder Convict Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake

A relative whose loved one was among the eleven people who disappeared in 2008-9 at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy, says she will now take heart from the news:

“When we saw that all the charges were being dropped in the magistrate’s court in Sri Lanka, we gave up. I said to my family, what’s the point of carrying on asking for justice,” said one of the Trincomalee 11 family members. “But now the seed of hope is growing again in my heart and you are watering it with this news. We are really happy that the Americans could at least do this; it gives us a little strength and hope. When I saw Hettiarachchi’s name on the list, I took a deep breath,” she added.

Her statement confirms how important accountability for past violations remains for victims in Sri Lanka.

The ITJP’s 2019 report The Navy: A Collective Blind Eye4 analysed in detail the evidence gathered in Sri Lanka during the police investigation into the disappearances by the Navy and cross referenced it with the testimony of other survivors, eyewitnesses and insiders and the command structure at the time. The study found large number of top Sri Lankan navy commanders were allegedly complicit in the torture, disappearance and murder that occurred inside naval sites from at least 2008-2014 which resulted in the ITJP calling for a review of engagement with the Sri Lankan Navy.

“This isn’t just a visa ban against low level alleged perpetrators but a warning signal to their commanders, many of whom are still in positions of power, that they too are extremely vulnerable,” said the Executive Director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), Yasmin Sooka. “Setting up presidential commissions to recommend dropping charges and issuing presidential pardons won’t safeguard the commanding officers, who still have a case to answer for gross violations of human rights,” she added.

1 https://www.state.gov/the-united-states-promotes-accountability-for-human-rights-violations-and-abuses/

2 Tamil MP Nadaraja Raviraj was murdered 10 November 2006. An all-Sinhalese jury in 2016 acquitted all those on trial. After his release from prison, HMPCK Hettiarachchi came back to work at Navy Headquarters in Colombo despite being a suspect in the 11 Trincomalee abduction case. This is testament to the protection he benefited from at the highest level as generally speaking, as a suspect in a criminal case, he should have been suspended.

3 “Hettiarachchi and Wickramasuriya put the Dehiwala boys to a white van. Mahesh said that they were taken to be handed over to Ranasinghe in Trincomalee”, said Susantha Petty officer XC 30543, Northern camp (Kankesanthurai), 14 August 2018. Police Investigation documents. “Hettiarachchi has given him cash to get them food”, said Wijekoon Mudiyanselage Chandrakumar Leading seamen XS 37614 Puttlam Camp, 14 August 2018. Court documents (Ref 13 March 2017 B report) quote the disappeared youth Rajeev Naganathan calling his father in Feb. 2009 and alleging Hettiarachchi had brought Ali Anver to Chaitya Road Naval HQ and had him suspended and beaten. In March, the Naganathan family received an SMS saying Hettiarachchi had moved their son and other prisoners to the high security naval base in Trincomalee.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 21
    8

    US goes after small fries while the big one, Gotabaya, is let off.
    How thankful the Tamils must be to their white saviours for their gesture towards human rights and justice, once again.

    • 12
      9

      CT Let us not be so naive! This is a little distraction from the fact that the SL Navy is participating in Seattle in some Navel show right now. Fact is that US Navy wants a piece of Strategic Lanka for a “lilypad” base to monitor its “Free and open Indo-Pacific!”
      US is the biggest militarizer of the planet and then says its worried about minority areas being militarized and Human Rights in Lanka!
      The DeepState military business industrial complex with its 800 miitary bases all over the world exports more weapons than anyone else! Also has a War Crimes dossier on its very own US citizens who run the Miracle of Modayas called Sri Lanka. If US cared about Human Rights and minority rights they’d first try
      Goat and Basil Rajapakse, also for fraud and corruption and illegal sale of Kerawelapitiya Power plant! Democracy Summits and lectures from the US are good for morons! They have the regime in their pocket and the Sri Lanka armed forces too with the Covid-19 Surveillance Hospital that USAID gifted to the military.
      US is the biggest militarizer of the planet and then says its worried about minority areas being militarized in Lanka!

      • 3
        1

        Also, the weaponization of Religion, particularly, Sinhala Buddhist Diaspora and Christian Evangelicas with the Rajapaksa Bros. networks in LA and Seattle by the Deepstate , just like the weaponization of the Tamil Diaspora is ongoing to divide and rule Lanka and set up military bases. Lanka Page Dec. 10 repeorts:
        Meanwhile the SL Navy is celerating its 71st anniversery in Seattle with wine and offerings at the Seattle Buddhist temple, the weaponization and MILITARIZATION of religious diaspora networks is ongoing… as .Lanka page Reports. Dec 10:The crew of P 627, Ex- US Coast Guard Cutter provided to Sri Lanka, joined the 71st anniversary celebrations of Sri Lanka Navy in Seattle, United States on 09th December 2021. An almsgiving and Pirikara Offering for Maha Sangha at “Sarana” International Buddhist Centre” in Seattle was carried out on 06th December. During this occasion prayers were invoked specially on fallen naval war heroes and those who were disabled in action. Further, blessings were called on Commander of the Navy, all naval personnel and their family members. On the Navy Day – 09th December, lunch was served to an institution run by the “Catholic Community Services” in Seattle.
        Welcome to the real world NGO ladies!

    • 12
      4

      nk

      “US goes after small fries while the big one, Gotabaya, is let off.”

      Brilliant man.
      Is it why Gota, Sarath, Basil …… were granted US green card and then citizenship?

      Are you one of those Yankee dicks who shouts when convenient “Yankee Go Home — and Take Me with You!”.

      • 9
        2

        I don’t know what you are on about?
        I was only talking about the duplicity of US approach to justice.
        In fact, the heading itself misplaces hope in my opinion.

  • 26
    2

    This type of travel ban is useless. They can still travel abroad to other countries at their pleasure. Recently, Shavendra Silva who is on the US banned list went to Russia to receive a right royal welcome.

    Now, what happened to Wasantha Karrannagoda? The case against him during the Yahapalanaya government was withdrawn by a spineless and obliging Attorney General most probably at the request of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa,

    The US should impose a travel ban outside Sri Lanka and countries should prosecute them over grave crimes committed in violation of international law, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture. transcends all borders, giving rise to “Universal Jurisdiction

    President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the midst of multiple crises on the economic and financial front finds the time to promote violators of human rights, genocide war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Karannagoda eminently qualifies for a trial by the ICC.

    • 17
      3

      Gotabaya himself is accused of those crimes and should stand a trial by the ICC, yet he is the president and is let scott free.
      Violence against Tamils is integral part of the Sri Lankan state. That is why justice to Tamils within the sri lankan judiciary is a farce, although various governments have taken up token cases to show their supposed impartiality/independence.

      • 4
        15

        nk
        “Violence against Tamils is integral part of the Sri Lankan state.”
        —-
        It is the other way around. It is Tamils who resorted to violence and terrorism against the Government of Sri Lanka and indigenous Sinhalayo from the time Sinhalayo gained independence from British. Violence against Sinhalayo who lived in Yapanaya started in 1950s. Tamils attacked Sinhalayo in Yapanaya when the Government changed the English letters in car number plates to a Sinhala letter. Tamils attacked Sinhalayo in Yapanaya when the Government reversed the decision taken by British to use English as the official language discarding Sinhala which was the official language of Sinhale for thousands of years. In 1976, Tamils passed Vadukkodei Resolution to create a separate State and declared war against the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sinhala nation. In 1983, Tamils killed 13 ‘Ranaviruwo’ and challenged the Government. Tamils created a terrorist organization called LTTE and carried out terrorist attacks against the Government and Sinhala Buddhists for three decades.

        • 6
          5

          Eagle Blind Eye

          Do you know as to why Surgeon General Shavendra attend General Bipin Rawat’s funeral? Did he go to Delhi to collect General Rawat’s insignia and medals?

        • 2
          0

          Eagle ‘donkeybrain’ Eye, you are truly a nutter. I wonder whether a brain was put into that thick skull of yours when you were manufactured in the banana plantation.

    • 4
      9

      Thanga,
      “The US should impose a travel ban outside Sri Lanka and countries should prosecute them over grave crimes committed in violation of international law, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture. transcends all borders, giving rise to “Universal Jurisdiction.”

      It was LTTE Tamil terrorists who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Recruiting children as child soldiers is a war crime. Keeping civilians as a human shield is a war crime. Killing innocent civilians using suicide bombers is a war crime. Killing 600 Policemen who surrendered by shooting one by one is a war crime. Killing ‘Samanera’ monks by chopping them into pieces is a war crime. Killing fetus of pregnant Sinhala women is a war crime. The list can go on.

      • 2
        1

        EE,

        If you keep SL as it is these things will happen again and again.

        Only solution is to create 3 mono ethnic nations and relocation of people.

        Do you agree?

    • 7
      2

      This is Srilanka. USA is putting a Borru show. That is all.

  • 23
    4

    Lankan special LOW AND ODOR. Yet Lankans are accusing Pakistan as a nation of religious, racial bigotry.

  • 4
    2

    The United States House of Representatives Tom Lantos Commission on Human Rights hearing on ‘Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s6MRSNuRj8

    • 4
      2

      Thanks, Anpu, for the link.

      I hope the diaspora would support the courageous and articulate people from Sri Lanka who presented the right perspective of the conditions on the ground.

      The U.S. is often hypocritical when it comes to holding regimes accountable (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.) and often relies on realpolitik instead of taking a principled position. It is also reflected in the State Dept’s choice of low-level war criminals from Sri Lanka for public shaming, leaving the regimes in power unscathed. The Tamil community has to be mindful of that and shouldn’t be overoptimistic about what the US and its European and Asian allies can do.

      • 3
        1

        Agnos

        “I hope the diaspora would support the courageous and articulate people from Sri Lanka who presented the right perspective of the conditions on the ground.”

        I am sorry a section of the noisy dumb asses always steal the show, bring self deconstructionism upon themselves and the Tamil speaking people. I hear there are billion Dumb ass (Kanolies) Whatsapps groups and one trillion dumb ass shouting matches. It has come to the sad stage now where they expect both Sumanthiran & Sanakkiyan to apply for permission to use their own respective toilets. Dumb ass Diaspora wants to dictate the terms and conditions of using toilets, such as what time, how many times, which toilet, ………..

        Anyway take care.

      • 3
        0

        Thanks Agnos. I am doing my part as much as I can.

      • 2
        0

        Hope they work together –
        The second phase meeting between the leaders of the Tamil and Muslim parties will be held in Colombo today (12) with the aim of working together to win the aspirations of the Tamil and Muslim people. Accordingly, it has been informed that this meeting is scheduled to start at 10.30 am today (12). At the same time, the meeting is set to be attended by a large number of parties representing minority parties. Ira Sampanthan, President of the Tamil National Alliance, Mano Ganesan, Leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, Raub Hakeem, Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Selvam Adikalanath, Leader of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Movement, CV Vigneswaran, Leader of the Tamil People’s National Alliance, Dharmalingam Siddharthan, Leader of the Eelam People’s Liberation Front, Eelam People. Revolutionary Liberation Front leader Suresh Premachandran, Tamil National Party leader N. Srikanta is said to be in the running. The first meeting between the Tamil Muslim parties took place in the first week of last month in Jaffna. Parties other than the Sri Lanka Tamil National Party and the Tamil National People’s Front participated. In this context, it was decided to hold this meeting with the participation of all party leaders. The second phase of the meeting will be held in Colombo today. At the end of this meeting, it is planned to release a document

        • 1
          0

          Google translation from https://onlinekathir.com/2021/12/13/

          The second phase meeting between the leaders of the Tamil-Muslim parties was held in Colombo yesterday.

          At the same time, the meeting was attended by a large number of parties representing minority parties.
          The meeting was attended by TNA leader RA Sampanthan, TNA leader Mano Ganesan, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem, TNA leader Selvam Adikalanath, TNA leader CV Vigneswaran and other party leaders.

          Various issues, including the implementation of the 13th Amendment, have been explored.

          Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, TNA leader Irfan Sampanthan said India had agreed to work together to implement the 13th Amendment as promised.
          Meanwhile, CV Vigneswaran, leader of the Tamil People’s National Alliance, said he would never give up on a lasting solution.

          It will be a collective and collective solution.

          However, he noted that efforts should be made to obtain the rights currently under the monopoly.

          Meanwhile, Mano Ganesan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance, said that representatives of minority parties would meet again on the 21st to sign a public document.

          At the same time, Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, said the government could no longer accept a postponement of the election using the changes in the electoral system.

    • 4
      0

      Anpu

      Good to hear from you.
      Please tell me why do you have so many political parties among your Tamil people?
      Could you also explain to us about the Brand Distinction & Brand Differentiation among those millions of Tamil Parties. Even SJ has his own red party I am told.

      What are the policy (ideological) differences between Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and M A Sumanthiran, or for that matter among Selvam Adaikalanathan, C. V. Vigneswaran, Dharmalingam Sitharthan, Angajan Ramanathan, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, ……………………. Suresh Premachandran, Douglas Devananda?

      I am confused.

      • 2
        0

        Hi NV.
        “Please tell me why do you have so many political parties among your Tamil people?”
        Ego??
        Take care

        • 2
          0

          Anpu

          What are the policy (ideological) differences between Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and M A Sumanthiran, or for that matter among Selvam Adaikalanathan, C. V. Vigneswaran, Dharmalingam Sitharthan, Angajan Ramanathan, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, ……………………. Suresh Premachandran, Douglas Devananda?

          • 1
            0

            Few years ago I asked few of these parties (TNA) the same question and failed to get a reply.

            • 3
              0

              Anpu

              Tamil and Sinhala speaking polity continues to fragment.
              There is no sign of Sinhala Polity coming together among themselves nor is there any indication of Tamil polity uniting for a common purpose, leave alone Sinhalese and Tamils forming a common front.

              Do the various Tamil leaderships realise they are at loggerhead with each other, wasting their energy, time resources, ….. undermining Tamil demand for equitable distribution of power.

              • 0
                0

                Thanks NV.
                You have articulated well.

  • 2
    0

    What a joke!

    They have no plans to go to USA or deal with US companies directly. So this has no impact.

    Gota was a US citizen for 10 years after winning the war. Nothing happened!

  • 4
    1

    Who said that the US and Liberal democracies keep Religion and Politics separate?!!

    Democracy Summits and Lectures from the US and its White Anglo-Saxon (AUKUS) and EU partners about Human Rights, Minorities and militraization is for Morons; the US citizen Rajapassa Brothers, and these NGO ladies.. who all get funds for their field research jaunts and Fiction laden Fact Finding Missions from USAID and EU!

  • 1
    0

    This act of the US Government is a “right hook” on Gotabaya’s face, a “left hook” on Ali Sabry’s face, and a “kick” on GL Pieries’s butt. When Sri Lanka cannot upload law and order, this is in the case of Easter Attack and now on the killing of 11 students, a foreign government taking prompt effective action further degrades the law and order situation as viewed by the international community.

    In the recent past, we have seen how the present AG who has been proved beyond doubt is not a guardian of public trust, has withdrawn cases filed by the previous AG who is now the Chief Justice. At times I wonder why the US Govt has not passed a sanction against the present AG and the Chief Justice as well.

  • 1
    0

    https://fb.watch/9RzxqESQsf/
    Prof Sujeewa Amarasena – Vice-Chancellor of University of Ruhuna

    • 2
      0

      Anpu

      Thanks.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.