17 January, 2021

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What Has Happened To The Weliweriya Inquiry?

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena –

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena

In the Weliweriya incident where innocent bystanders died as a result of the army firing into the crowds asking for clean water, a military court of inquiry found that the soldiers had ‘exceeded the scope’ of their duties.

No consequential punishments imposed

This by itself is a remarkably understated conclusion given the level of aggravation which occurred, with soldiers chasing and assaulting journalists who were legitimately reporting on the fracas and abusing men and women of the cloth when panic stricken villagers sought shelter in a nearby church. Even so, what has happened in due course?

Reportedly the factory which had allegedly caused the contamination of ground water is due to be shifted but the military command line of responsibility is left unscathed. The public is not even informed of what consequential punishments have been imposed on the soldiers who ‘exceeded the scope of their duties” let alone their superiors who ordered such drastic action purely to demonstrate their power.

Probably if this same incident had occurred in the North/East and Tamil/Muslim villagers had been affected, the factory would have not got shifted, no inquiry would have been held even for cosmetic purposes. Those who protested would perhaps be languishing under the prevention of terrorism laws in some dark prison.

The ambiguous role of the Rule of Law

The Weliweriya incident encapsulates basic questions about the Rule of Law which unfortunately tends to get downplayed each time the sessions on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) comes round, catapulting the country into what has become a familiar ritual on war crimes and accountability.

In this furore, the Rule of Law comes to occupy a somewhat ambiguous role, being all things to some people and none at all to others. This fundamental lack of unanimity in thinking, in turn, has made effective collective interventions in a way that actually changes government policy, difficult if not impossible. Let us see what some of these differences are.

On the one hand, there appears to be the assumption that talking of the Rule of Law is the ‘easy way out’ which avoids confronting ‘difficult’ questions such as the fate of the thousands of Tamil civilians in 2009. On its own part, (albeit with refreshing exceptions) Tamil political parties are marked in their reluctance to focus on the Rule of Law, preferring instead to talk of the historic grievances of the Tamil people.  The Rule of Law, from this point of view, appears to be looked upon as a problem affecting the majority in Sri Lanka with which the minorities need have little empathy.

Needless to say, these are extremely shortsighted views. They are also counter-productive in their essence for they shut out the majority of the country from concerns that are shared in common with the minorities.

The trajectory of the LLRC report

On the other hand, this government has demonstrably little understanding of what the Rule of Law means, even in its most basic sense. Its knee jerk reaction to the 2011 Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report which centered on Rule of Law concerns was first to say that the LLRC had exceeded its mandate. Then when the resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council asking that the LLRC’s recommendations be implemented in 2012 came about, government spokespersons talked of a road map for implementation as if the implementation of the law needed a roadmap!

In fact, the energy that the LLRC report has generated in focusing on a serious Rule of Law crisis is interesting. For perhaps the first time in years, government propaganda that all those who criticize government actions or policy were traitors began to be perceived as distinctly ridiculous. It was soon realized at least domestically that debunking the LLRC report to rely solely on international pressure to bring about a war crimes inquiry beyond Sri Lanka’s shores was shortsighted and, in the long run, dangerous.

Essentially, where a despotic administration blind to all basic norms of internal governance is concerned, international pressure is well and good, perhaps even necessary. But this pressure must always be applied with care and caution so as to avoid giving domestic lift to a political leadership that is able to skillfully use such pressure.

The key to changing Sri Lanka’s pitiless non-accountability culture is in bringing about incremental and not instant change. To do this, public support needs to be garnered, based not merely on pressure from the outside but pressure from the inside.

The issue is not only about the law

So as Sri Lanka goes before the Council yet again, it is quite clear that hard core reforms recommended by the LLRC are yet to be implemented even though we are assured by one Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission (who seems to have taken on the task of chief spokesperson for the government in blatant defiance of his statutory role) that a Right to Information law and a Witness Protection law is on its way. Yet the issue is manifestly not merely about the law. Instead it is about political will in implementing the law. It should be assumed that this is not something that must be peculiarly said. But the sheer asininity of the defences mounted by government defenders provokes such tart responses.

Sri Lanka is an excellent example, in fact, where even good laws have been thrown to the proverbial dustbin. A salutary example is the 1995 Anti-Torture law which now apparently exists only on the statute books. Where are the prosecutions for grave human rights violations and torture that result in actual convictions? Where is the deterrent effect of the law? What is the government’s policy on prosecuting alleged torture perpetrators?

Called to account by the people

The ominous nature of the ‘security state’ that we are inflicted with is now without question. In fact, the Weliweriya incident is the clearest example of this post-war ‘security state’ which has displaced the Rule of Law.  It is this fundamental transformation that this Government must be called to account, by the people, quite apart from the annual convulsions at the UNHRC.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    We all know if there is a bloody scene ,after the formal , informal inquiries the crime scene wash off by the water
    The same thing happened here
    Also shut the mouth up with money
    Victims family got compensation and shut them up
    Victim’s family can’t fight against the MR regime

  • 6
    13

    Kishali

    After much sacrifice and suffering, democratic Sri Lanka and its people defeat the most savage terrorist mafia known to the modern world, and now the countries that realized the true nature of the LTTE and assisted Sri Lanka in defeating it have turned against Sri Lanka and are trying to undo the victory with the help of its political enemies including obviously the diaspora rump – this is the fundamental transformation the international community should be called upon to account at Geneva.

    • 20
      4

      This account is NOT about the LTTE, this is about the Weliweriya Massacre that killed SINHALESE !

      Don’t change the subject !

    • 5
      1

      After the LTTE terror was millitarily and brutally eleminated, MR and any other Rajapakshes SEEM to have every right to behave violating human rights. Latter is what the govt ´s supporters have always been saying in their public speeches as they have no other arguments based on the FACTS.

      Powerful JHU election canddiate – Udaya G, a L – A-W-Y-E-R by his education publicly argues what is wrong with Defence secretary taking part in public election campaigns ? while EC is producing his view which is against the law prevailing in the country ??????ß

      So, he himself defends his arguments-repeating that DEFENCE secretary´s role is a political appointment – though constitution says somethign else. And current Election Commissioner makes it clear that participation of Defence secretary in such rallies are against the LAW.

      So who is right in terms of the role of DEFENCE SECRETARY ?

      Those who ask MR REGIME TO HOLD internal independent war crime investigation should RAISE the question, in a country, every abuse the law in this way could deliver an indepent war crime investigation ?

      President himself claims to be a L-A-W-Y-E-R BY EDUCATION
      Udaya G (PC election canddiate – also a L-A-W-Y-E-R)

      • 6
        0

        All these proves that there is NO RULE OF LAW AT ALL IN THE COUNTRY TODAY. That is it.

    • 1
      2

      The international must now start a war against the Sinhala Buddhist terrorists in power in Sri Lanka: It’s the state terrorists.

      They can use drones to take out the key state terrorists in Sri Lanka.
      It’s just a cake walk.

      This may sound unthinkable, but nothing is impossible if they put their minds to it, as state terrorism is getting out of hand.

      • 3
        1

        CT prints every anti-government article they can find. CT is run by journalists in exile so that is quite acceptable.

        The LTTE posters are using this situation to attack, not just MR but the whole Sinhalese race.

        CT should not allow this. We all want MR gone and real democracy restored but not with the conditions of the LTTE diaspora.

        • 1
          0

          Paul,

          Sour Grapes that CT is operated outside the country and your acceptance. Besides your stance that you are against MR but want the Chauvinist Sinhala Biddhists protected, when you have been critical of anyone who has expressed anti Rajapaksa views on this Forum is no secret.

          Any Devil even Foreign is better than this Rajapaksa Devils and should be driven out.

    • 2
      3

      Out rider ;

      Why want you to Ride Out.

      LTTE Subject is Now Rancid for 5 years and Still Your Jarapassas want to ride on that Eliminated VP and take advantages from so called Patriots like KP, PILLYAN, and other Cats paws.

      Why are you Goons are afraid So much???????, If you have not Done any Wrong thing to People???????.
      Because You JARAWAS All ARE BIG LIERS AND CHEATERS.

  • 2
    0

    “Reportedly the factory which had allegedly caused the contamination of ground water is due to be shifted but the military command line of responsibility is left unscathed”

    Well, well, well, what do we have here? With due respect madam, are you suggesting that the so called ‘line of command’ (and you know where that leads?) commit hara kiri?

  • 4
    0

    .
    What happened to the weliweriya inquiry?

    I’ll be surprised if they are not promoted yet.

    :-)

    • 4
      0

      Reponse should be given in a form of a question, unfortunately

      what happened to BARATHA murder investigation in which presidents close allies killed Baratha ? Very same people to appoint victim´s daughter as PC election candidate to the up coming PC elections -is most tasteless. But these are common to MR politics that is being practised in the country

  • 2
    5

    apparently there is no evidence in any of the independent tests conducted that the water was polluted . so some poor SOBs died in vain . The factory has been relocated . many lost jobs .

    • 3
      0

      Which independent tests? Who has faith in a post Weliweriya water test done by the Rajapaksa government or institutions subservient to it.

      • 2
        0

        These MR apologists like Abhaya are painting nice pictures about so called independent tests, that they believe to have conducted while it is evident to anyone with sanity – that the current authorities have failed to react promptly in the unknown kidney disease disaster that have brutally affected on a 0.5mio sized young farming population – in Rajarata and few other areas of the country. I just wanted to check this through MRI website but such websites are as usual not updated by them on a regular manner.

        • 0
          0

          well srima

          please post the links for the tests you have access to .

          • 0
            0

            1) “please post the links for the tests you have access to ” ??????

            Initially you are the one who even mentioned about “independently held tests” Abhaya February 16, 2014 at 4:25 am

            2) a) You need to define the word “independent” separately, within the current context (MR administration) where statistical numbers have been manipulated for ruler^s sake

            b) Get more of the data related to those results directly from your men in SL

            3) Recalling one good professor^s article posted on CT, few months ago, revealed that silly introduction of hazardous fertilizer to lanken farming folks can be the main reason to count unforeseen
            kidney ailments in young farming community

  • 5
    0

    What also happened to the Welikada Prison killings inquiry?

  • 1
    0

    We have a Bermuda Triangle between MR, GR and BR. Reports get lost, Commissions are forgotten, even People disappear. The high ranking perpetrators may soon be appointed as Presidiential Advisers or Diplomats.

  • 1
    0

    “Probably if this same incident had occurred in the North/East and Tamil/Muslim villagers had been affected, the factory would have not got shifted, no inquiry would have been held even for cosmetic purposes. Those who protested would perhaps be languishing under the prevention of terrorism laws in some dark prison.”

    One person who is not blind.

  • 1
    0

    And the enquiries into the mass graves? Everything swept under a very large carpet where it all turns into dust!

  • 0
    0

    George Santayana said in his book ‘Reason in Common Sense’: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it”, so it’s no surprise that the dingbats in the saddle today are doing what they are doing.

    Perhaps eventually, justice will triumph, as it is happening in El Salvador, 20 years after the end of its own civil war. See:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/peopleandpower/2013/08/201381310843483272.html

  • 1
    0

    Don’t we all know these commissions, inquiries, presidential blah blah commissions are all fake and even if they were held those reports are never published. Hardly any actions were taken about some of the published reports or recommendations. There are many examples like the so talked about and so called LLRC garbage report. These are all just to fool the international countries and local people. Are we all still playing dumb believing these guys and their stupid reports ? Weliveriya, Welikada or Wanathanulla and ..everything is done according to Mahinda Chinthanaya by Gooo-tha-pakaya, the goon and the full blown mad psychopathic maniac who is under no control. Don’t you worry, there will be more to come and this notorious guy is ever ready to give execution order to do anything. Ruwan Wanigasooriyas, Ajith Rohanas, and all the other paid suckers will DENY everything officially as usual. These scums will face the same thing like the infamous wife stealing “Sex’man HunuBalla” the disgraced Hulugalle ! These are the rascals ‘governing’ the god forsaken country. Until there are enough urchins and vultures around them, they will do anything and everything. These are the people who are posing as patriots and still cheating the people. Some of our countrymen continue to love them and vote for these parasites. Go vote and help them destroy the rest of the country.These are the guys talking about Buddhism and taking credit of victory after mass murdering civilians of all kind. They have some what mostly destroyed or done with the Tamils and still doing things in different forms to them. Now their attention has turned towards Muslims and even ‘their own’ Sinhalese. Nize going guys, but even now some idiots don’t want to believe what these undesirables do to them and the nation. That’s pathetic. We cannot blame the ruining rulers but ourselves. Enjoy living in this paradise. Pardon my language, I’m so pissed off today reading these nonsenses still going on like white vanning, murder of journo Mel and every damn thing happening. This wonderful nation of ours has gone to dogs or pigs or what ? Why are we all keeping so quiet and just watching like those Indian rascals ? Why should we allow Indians or USA or UK to interfere in our affairs ? They will DESTROY our country..and they are going to do that. We could have settled our problems ourselves but our leaders were not wise or had any genuine vision. They only had racist vision and are all fools, idiots, power hungry and bigots. They don’t deserve the responsibility of ruling a nation. Just go vote them to power and completely erase everything. Good riddance Tigers, JVP, JHU, Ravaya, BBS, Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Veddahs all and sundry for good.

  • 2
    1

    What did Kuttimani, the TELO Leader, say 30 years ago?

    “This Army camp at Elephant Pass will come to Kalutara tomorrow. This Navy camp at Gurunagar will come to Hambantota tomorrow. This Air Force camp at Palali will come to Matale tomorrow. This same weapon that was raised against us Tamils today will be raised against you the Sinhalese tomorrow. Only then you will realize how reasonable this fight of ours is.”

    • 0
      0

      Ha Ha Ha .. in kuttumani we trust .

  • 0
    0

    Do u feel that it is enough you lived your life?

  • 0
    0

    What Has Happened To The Weliweriya Inquiry? Swept under the carpet.

  • 0
    0

    What Has Happened To The Weliweriya Inquiry?

    It is in the Saddarmadveepa Chakrawarthi’s “Hamas Pettiya” along with 1768 of other commission reports.

  • 1
    0

    What has happened to the Weliweriya Inquiry?
    There was a sitting,a report and the matter was dropped.Normal practice on visits to the toilet.
    Kishali,I hope I am not being crude in this comparison.But frankly this has been the case right along.

  • 2
    0

    “a military court of inquiry found that the soldiers had ‘exceeded the scope’ of their duties.”

    They would have been promoted and got salary increases and in their file it would be mentioned that they have exceeded what they had to do.

    If you are a boss in a mercantile establishment and you employed a beautiful secretary and she comes and asks you every day whether you want a cup of tea and when you work late she also waits till you go and once in a way comes and says you look very tired a and gives a neck massage or if you are a baldy gives a head massage,then you will consider her as exceeding the scope of her duties and reward her accordingly,won’t you.Unless you are a arsehole of course and takes all that for granted as your divine right as the boss.

  • 0
    0

    Native.
    My remark was not from a high pedestal.I am aware that Kishali has written extensively especially on matters relating to the Rule of Law.I consider myself to be a dwarf compared to her.

    • 0
      0

      J.Thavarajah.

      Fine, thanks.

  • 0
    0

    Gota thought acting tough, using the Army in the South as well would work for him. But it proved otherwise and had to retreat quietly. If not Gota would have used the Army yesterday to quell the riotous situation at Wanathamulla also. One of these days the Public is going to take on the Forces and if any deaths result, Sri Lanka Spring is about to bloom.

  • 1
    0

    What are we talking about? This is corrupt lawless banana Republic. The inquires, investigations and commissions are only as cover ups.

  • 0
    0

    “What Has Happened To The Weliweriya Inquiry?”

    what weliweriya?What happenned there?Sinhalese have short memories haven’t they.They have moved on.

    Mahinda and gota think that tamils too have short memories and have been playing for time the last 5 years,but tamils are not moving on.

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