The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) notes with the greatest alarm and anxiety the distressing events that transpired at Weliweriya in the Gampaha District of the Western Province last Thursday, 1st August 2013. It is not the first instance in post-war Sri Lanka of unarmed citizens exercising their democratic right to protest being tear-gassed, fired upon and killed by the security forces: in the export processing zone at Katunayaka in 2011 and in Chilaw in 2012, respectively, 01 innocent citizen was killed. Likewise, media personnel covering the event were manhandled and their equipment confiscated, damaged or destroyed. The number of fatalities recorded in Weliweriya currently stands at 03, with many more injured.
These incidents of the killing of unarmed citizens – and in the Weliweriya incident, two young students reportedly not directly involved in the protest – are tragic and shameful reminders of the collapse of the rule of law in our country, and most importantly, of the mind-set of the government in respect of the exercise of democratic rights by its citizens. Serious and fundamental questions come to the fore with regard to the rule of law and the maintenance of law and order by the government, in the context of the complete disregard of the constitutional and legal framework governing the circumstances in which the armed forces may legitimately be called out in aid of the civil power. In this extra-legal sphere, is it now a standard operating procedure for the police to abdicate its responsibilities for law and order, on account of incapacity or otherwise, and call in special forces and the army? What are the orders given to the latter in such a situation? Use live ammunition? Shoot and shoot to kill? Indeed, who gives such orders? Who takes responsibility for them? What is the operational chain of command and who answers to Parliament? What are the prospects for an unhindered judicial process?
An internal inquiry has been ordered by the new Commander of the Army, on whose first day of office, this reprehensible event occurred. There is also, apparently, an on-going police investigation. The Human Rights Commission too, has commenced an investigation. Adding insult to injury, government spokespersons are also quoted as alleging foreign involvement in the event, political party sponsorship of the violence, and ascribing responsibility to the media for the events. Not only does it seem that the Sri Lankan state is fast becoming a predator rather than a protector of the people, but also that it holds the credulity and goodwill of its citizens in utter contempt.
Nothing short of a credible, independent and impartial investigation, the findings of which should be made public, can allay the concerns of the citizens of Sri Lanka as to the alarming extent of the collapse of the rule of law and law and order in the country. The failure to conduct such an investigation, and the necessary judicial punishment of the perpetrators, would be a major miscarriage of justice, a fundamental failure of the primary duty of protection that the state owes its people, and an invitation to continued adverse international attention to Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The government and its political allies including sections of the clergy would do well to heed these considerations in their response to the Weliweriya incident.
The fullest demonstration of the government’s genuine commitment to the rule of law and law and order with regard to this incident should be seen in turn as a measure of its willingness and ability to ensure democratic governance in Sri Lanka. Its failure to do so will only further increase the burgeoning democratic deficit and retard our prospects for reconciliation, unity and prosperity.
*Statement by Centre for Policy Alternatives
Don Stanley / August 6, 2013
CPA – the chain of command begins and ends with Gota the paranoid white van goon who is Lanka’s dictator in waiting. Gota is setting up a DEEP STATE military dictatorship while his brothers prop up a FACADE OF DEMOCRACY.
A deep state (as evident in Trukey, Egypt, Pak etc) is a “state within a state”, a corrupt secret operation – run by high officials in military intelligence, the judiciary, administration and economic sectors who make all policy decisions..
MR is the clown and SLFP the party that provides a facade of democracy – a circus of crony capitalist looters who surround MR and his uneducated brother Basil who sans a basic degree fancies himself minister of Economic Development. The latter, Basil aka. Mr. 20 percent, a land grabber and common thief knows nothing about Economics or Development and thinks that Casinos and low end service jobs for cheap tourists amounts to development…
crazyoldmansl / August 6, 2013
Deep states are invented by those who want to save their favorites and send the people on a wild goose chase. Dayan has already got the job of inventing the conspiracy theory. I did not know that he has hired assistants.
Palitha P / August 7, 2013
Gota’s deep state construction project is funded by the WORLD BANK which is giving loans to the Ministry of Defense via the Urban Development Authority and funding payment of soldiers salaries for city “Beautification”.
We all know that so-called development aid (loans) are fungible and there is NO TRANSPARENCY when it come to the Ministry of Defense and holding it accountable. The World Bank preaches GOOD GOVERNANCE but is in fact funding the militarization of Sri Lanka and BAD GOVERNANCE.
CPA and other Civil Society Groups must hold the World Bank accountable and ask it to STOP FUNDING the Defense Ministry militarization of Lanka and city beautification for the CHOGM – commonwealth of clowns show to boost the Rajapassa brothers ego and military dictatoship in November.
Lankan / August 6, 2013
Secretary of defense should be removed from his post until a public inquiry is held.
What is the assuarance that the government of Sri Lanka can give to the visiting Commonwealth Leaders that they will not be shot at by an unruly army which attacked Rajiv Gandhi at a parade, killed white flag surrenders in the North, watched and, disrupted opposition public meetings, protected BBS monks attacking mosques and now unarmed civilians in Weliweriya? Why should foreign leaders come to Sri Lanka for the Commonwealth Meeting?
This action of the army clearly shows that all police and land powers should be given to the people and their provincial councils.
David Blacker / August 6, 2013
Have you seen the way the Provincial Councillors behave? Do you really want to give them those powers too?
Lankan / August 6, 2013
Who is responsible for electing those fools? Who is responsible for blocking any action taken by the civil forces and judiciary against those fools? Its the same group that is responsible for sending the army to attack the unarmed civilians.
Let us all learn from what TNA has done, lets appoint provincial councilors who have the capacity and capability to match with people like Justice Wigneswaran.
Just because some fools misbehave its no excuse not to give land and police powers to the provincial councils. One reason why the provincial councilors are idiots is because those who gave them nominations are also idots and we are in this state with the southern provincial councils.
Just because people violate laws we have not removed all laws from the books.
David Blacker / August 7, 2013
I’m not suggesting laws be removed, but when we create new ones we must be sure that they will be useful and not just another layer of abuse. So far the PC and PS members have shown themselves to be no better than the parliamentarians. So how will giving them more power make things better?
What should instead be done is to return power to the judiciary and the civil servants and ensure that political influence is reduced in these areas.
Dude / August 7, 2013
Corruption has been trickling down from the center (Colombo) and the corrupt Rajapassa brothers to the provinces.. the Rot starts at the top!
Ajith / August 6, 2013
The whole government should be removed, from Top to Bottom. It is shame for the Sinhala community and those claim they are Buddhists. How can a few hundred criminals are allowed to govern the nation?
kp / August 6, 2013
it’s just downright amusing the way people like nimal siripala and other govt. goons are trying to pass the buck. until now, several “api nemei” excuses have been put forward:
– the protesters had petrol bombs
– the jvp is behind all this
– foreigners are involved
– the protesters had guns (put forward just yesterday)
every new day brings with it a new excuse, much like the casualty figures of the war kept changing since may 2009 (going from 0 to a couple hundred to zero, then to maybe a thousand or so killed by the ltte, then back to zero, and so on…). This should at least open some eyes to not just the plight of the people at weliweriya, not just the people in the NE, not just those in Katunayaka or Deraniyagala, but that of all of us.
in the midst of all this, none of these ‘ministers’ are willing to answer as to why the military was called in before the riot squad- begging the question as to who indeed made that call. the IGP? surely he has no power to boss the army around? the army commander? surely he has to go through the MoD? in which case, why is gota saying nothing?
Kaliamma / August 6, 2013
There is no operational chain of command because the links in the chain made of one brutal family. They only cars about their power and robbing the country
Did Maraya or his brother made any statement on this yet???
Dan / August 6, 2013
That buruwa (donkey) how much concerned with all these issues becomes very clear looking at the picture added to this article. He and Minister of justice have not made any statements about the killings at Weliveriya? For MR, he still thinks that he will stay fooling those villagers further. These poor masses should be made clear that President of the country is the minister of defence – nobody else.
Wickramasiri / August 6, 2013
In the Chain of Command where is Athaale Gnanasara? Is he above or below the Defence Secretary? Is he a full General now?
gonbella / August 7, 2013
You are far behind times Wickramasiri. Gnanasara is the Field Marshall.
Gnanasara admitted that he asked the Ministry of Defence to intervene in Rathupaswela. So that is where the command came from. Have no doubt. Ceylon Today reported correctly but were bullied by BBS to retract the story.
So the MOD carried out the orders of the Field Marshall on the same lines of action Gnanasara has taught to the rest of the country – extreme thuggery, intimidation and now killing.
David Blacker / August 9, 2013
He is the paddy field marshal
Nawamalika / August 6, 2013
The IGP is not even allowed to command the police service…DIG Aruna Senanayake is used to subvert and bypass the IG. It was the day or close..the new Army Commander took over..so clearly Gota ordered the army…just like he bypasses IG to control police…even his take over of the STF was handed back to Police Dept. as the move was not wise and promptly attracted rightful criticism.
Lapatiya / August 6, 2013
Chain of Command –
Singhala Kola Rawaya — Rawana Balukaya — Gaanu 5 Naanasara Bebadu Balu Senawa —Gandassara —- Grease Piya—Anura Senanayaka—-Ranaviru Senawa—-Sooting—–Killing—-Dallas Allahapperuma (Laundry work) —- Keheliya Rambukwalla (Kasala Sodaka work and dry Jokes)—- Saddarmadveepa Chakrawarthi—-Appointment of endless Commissions—–Few Protests—–Aadambarakara thaththa Calling Victims Families—–Chapter Close.
Dhaksha / August 7, 2013
The constant blame on “foreign involvement” has become an old broken record, being played by the rajapaksa’s and their spokespeople. How long can their crimes be blamed on other nations? How long will incriminating videos be dismissed as “doctored”, how long will they blame “foreign nations” for ALL the crimes they have committed?
Was it “foreign involvement” that ordered this brutal army to open fire, with sophisticated weaponry, on unarmed civilians? Enough of the excuses, the Sri Lankan people are getting wise to their games.
justice / August 7, 2013
“Credible,Independent,Impartial” investigaters are very few in sri lanka and will not dare to accept office.
Nor will they be appointed.
This,the government knows.
Only in real democracies are there “special investigating units” to probe excesses by police and armed forces.
Our army does not even have Military Police like in other countries.
qassim ben qassim / August 8, 2013
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General P Ublic ndc psc / August 8, 2013
I saw on TV last night, our president and his son the future president designate, at some opening, clad in pure white, with red Saatake around the neck, beaming happily and wondered if it ever entered in to their thoughts that some where in weliweriya there is are poor mothers and fathers crying over their dead sons – how happy they would have been if they too could stand with their sons, even if not at some gala opening
power corrupts – absolute pwer corrupts absolutely
no only that – now we know absolute power also leave you heartless and indifferent to poor masses.
Sarath / August 8, 2013
Ratupaswala incident in which involved brutal killings and shooting by the Sri Lankan army soldiers who generally act like buffaloes when they are confronted with human matters should be condemned highly by every law abiding citizen in Sri Lanka and the entire world. Now the question is who controls the Sri Lankan Army? Is it Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakshe or the Chairman of the company whose factory is situated in Weliveriya which is the root cause of this sensitive problem. The government is so silent in answering these questions. Now the government seems entirely politicized and family-oriented. This incident even though the government tries to belittle it expressing that a group of armed people started a riot first. What the government says is entirely false and baseless. This incident furthermore testifies that Sri Lanka is not a country that safeguards human rights even though it hypes. The entire nation is requesting the government should look into the matter in question in a fair and impartial manner in order to do justice for the people in Weliweriaya.
mike / August 8, 2013
I know this is an unrelated photograph! This bugger does not look like a President of a country. The picture appears as if he is having a “peek” at Paba??
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / August 9, 2013
Presidente, what a shame, man.
The picture appears as if the President of the country Peeking at Paba’s what?????????????.
gamini / August 9, 2013
What decorum, what dignity as seen in the photo? What a Head of State? bending in two while the others are well composed. This is why it is said that the bend tail of a dog can never be straitened.