Wimal admits to mass grave in North

mahinda-rajapaksa-wimal-weerawansa-17.7.13Wimal admits to mass grave in North but rebuffed by Malwatte Mahanayake

Mass grave

In his efforts to convince the prelate of the necessity to stop the current government from changing the Constitution to allow an enquiry into the final phase of the war, former MP Wimal Weerawansa inadvertently let slip the location of a mass grave his former bosses – former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa – used to bury bodies from the end of the war.

“For example,” the former MP told the devoutly attentive prelate, “a camp was moved out of Kilinochchi recently…Now that ground was what was used, during the end of the war, to bury the LTTE. Now there is the possibility they will dig up this area. The minute they dig it up they will find thousands of bodies. Who can prove if these are the bodies of LTTE cadres, or others?”

The former MP said that by moving people out of camps there was the danger that these mass graves would be unearthed and proof be gathered to support the accusation that war crimes were committed by the Rajapaksas at the final stages of the battle with the LTTE.

Weerawansa went on to add hype to the situation by telling the prelate, Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera, that should evidence be gathered from this grave to support the accusation that the Rajapaksas committed war crimes, it would be enough to have the North separated from the rest of the island – “Much like Serbia and Kosovo.”

War-Crime-sri-lanka-3“Under the current constitution there is provision for war crimes,” he said, “But it is not applicable to the past. What they are doing is changing the Constitution to allow war crimes to be tried on events from the past,” before telling the prelate that he was presenting ‘true facts’ and would in no way ‘even dream of lying.”

However, the Mahanayake Thera did not seem convinced and the entire exercise bounced back on Weerawansa and his supporters.

Undeterred by the incident, Weearawansa’s party is now preparing to hold seminars across the country to make the public aware of the government’s new constitution.

Weerawansa debacle

UPFA Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa ran into a trouble when he met the chief prelate of the Malwatte chapter, Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddartha Sumangala Thera, last week to discuss about the government’s plans for a new constitution.

Weerawansa, speaking to the Mahanayake Thera, said the new constitution was being drafted to fulfill the needs of separatist elements, including the Tamil National Alliance.

He also said, through the new constitution, the government was trying to allow foreign judges and prosecutors to examine into war crimes during the final phase of war.

He urged the Mahanayake Thera to intervene the government’s efforts to formulate a new constitution, dubbing it as a great threat to the country’s sovereignty.

It looked as if the Mahanayake Thera did not even take Weerawansa’s arguments seriously. “The new constitution has not been even drafted yet,” the Mahanayake Thera said, responding to Weerawansa’s allegations.

“The President and the Prime Minister have reassured, multiple times, that they would not cause any harm to the country by introducing a new constitution. So, what’s the point in panicking unnecessarily at this stage?” the Mahanayake Thera asked. His question, without doubt, put Weerawansa on the ‘back foot’.

“Apey Hamuduruwane, please look at this matter with an open mind. We are not trying to create an unnecessary fear over the new constitution,” Weerawansa told the Mahanayake Thera, in a desperate attempt to save face.

President Maithripala Sirisena hosted a dinner for some leading civil society activists and trade union leaders, at the President’s House, on Wednesday night.

Leaders of the National Movement for a Just Society, Puravesi Balaya and some prominent trade unions attended the event. Most of them were instrumental in President Sirisena’s successful election campaign in January, last year, and had strong links with the ruling alliance.

However, many civil society and trade union leaders had mixed reactions about the government’s progress, over the past 16 months. Although they unanimously agreed that the ‘January 8 change’ had made a positive impact on the government, there were some concerns about the national unity government’s commitment to some key promises given at the Presidential election campaign. One of them was the government’s pledge to take stern action on those who embezzled billions of public money, under the previous regime.

‘It’s true that the government has made some steps to investigate into those cases of corruption. But, we cannot be happy about the overall progress of the inquiries.

There has to be a special mechanism to fast-track this process. Otherwise, the people will lose faith in the government,” a prominent civil society leader told others, before the arrival of the President.

However, they welcomed the verdict in the Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra murder case, saying it restored the people’s faith in the judiciary. The President ran late for the meeting as he attended the launching ceremony of a book written by Parliamentarian Malith Jayathilleke.

The Parliamentarian’s book was based on the ‘January 8 turnaround’ and the President seemed to be in a good mood when he walked into the meeting at the President’s House.

Ministry allocation

UPFA Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa met the chief prelate of the Malwatte chapter, Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddartha Sumangala Thera

The civil society and trade union leaders, speaking to the President, highlighted their key issues, including the composition of the current cabinet.

They said the allocation of ministries had not been done in a scientific manner. They were also of the view that the current allocation of ministries had left space for underperforming ministers. Therefore, they demanded an urgent reshuffle to tie up the ‘loose ends’ in the Cabinet of Ministers.

They also stressed the need for setting up a special judicial process to look into cases involving large-scale corruption and abuse of power. They said the current process was time consuming and the patience of the public was wearing thin.

They also handed over a special letter to President Sirisena, highlighting their key demands and grievances.

Addressing the gathering, however, the President did not give any undertaking. But, he promised to look into the problems and take necessary action to address the issues raised by the civil society groups.

“I am not a perfect person. There can be mistakes on my part,” the President said, addressing the gathering.

“Other presidents who ruled this country did not have many problems during their initial phases. People allowed them to work. But my situation is different. I had to face various issues since the day I assumed office,” the President added, explaining his position. He also said that nothing would stop him from delivering on the promises he made at the last Presidential election.

“Some say it’s hard to get appointments to meet me. You don’t need appointments to see me. Come to my Paget Road residence at 8.30 in the morning, even without an appointment. That’s the best place to meet me,” the President told the invitees.

Isaippiriya_and_Ushalini4Duminda

Before attending the meeting with the President, Prof Sarath Wijesuriya, a stalwart of the National Movement for a Just Society, stirred a hornet’s nest when he addressed a book launch in Battaramulla. Speaking at the event, Prof Wijesuriya made a revelation about former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva who was recently convicted for the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

“There was a time when Duminda Silva’s family ran a boutique. I’ve bought lunch packets from him. After joining politics, he became one of the wealthiest politicians. Where did this money come from?” Wijesuriya asked.

“It is this system that protects corrupt politicians. That’s why we need to correct the system. For instance, Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra’s murder case could have gone on for years if Hirunika Premachandra did not have the civil power to push the process. In this context, what is the plight of an ordinary citizen?” Wijesuriya said, alarming the social activists on the current state of affairs in the country.

The judgment against Silva, however, made it clear that everyone was equal before the court of law and gone are the days when politicians were larger than the judiciary.

Following the verdict, however, Hirunika Premachandra, the slain politician’s daughter has now launched a fresh war against Duminda Silva saying the latter misled the judiciary by giving false medical reports on his injuries.

Duminda Silva was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital in October 2011, following the shootout in which Premachandra was killed. Hospital authorities at that point, said the parliamentarian’s condition was critical as there were gunshot wounds to his head. After initial surgeries in Colombo, Silva was taken to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for further treatment.

Silva recovered miraculously in Singapore and returned to the country. He was later arrested by the Police while in a private hospital and released on bail. After being granted bail, Silva, whose brain was ‘severely damaged’ following gunshot wounds walked out of the hospital, smiling.

After his release, Silva led a perfectly normal life and he even attended parliamentary sessions. He also applied to contest the last parliamentary election on the UPFA ticket, but the party rejected his nominations. Silva, however, remained an ally of the former President who led the campaign of the party at the last Parliamentary election.

With the aim of questioning Silva’s medical reports, Hirunika Premachandra on Sunday, published a picture of her father which was taken shortly after the shootout. Premachandra was shot in the head and the photograph clearly showed the cavity created by the gunshot.

“Every time I see this picture I don’t think it’s real, because I only remember his handsome face with a smile on. For the first time in my life I am posting this picture, not for your sympathy but for you to understand this is how a ‘shot in the head’ looks like. It’s impossible to live even a second after a shot like this… something to think about,” the Parliamentarian posted, while publishing the photo. Her remark was directed at former parliamentarian Silva who also claimed that he was shot in the head by Premachandra’s supporters. Her post went viral on social media platforms over the weekend and many websites reproduced the photograph.

By making the statement, Premachandra has requested authorities to investigate into the conduct of Dr. Maheshi Wijeratne, a Consultant Neurologist who treated Duminda Silva after the incident. The Premachandra family has indicated that they will proceed with their battle against Silva and his allies.

Surgery

A day after Premachandra published the photograph of her father, Dilini Silva, Duminda Silva’s sister, published some photos of Silva, taken during a brain surgery. She said Silva had to go through an open skull surgery after the shootout and was under medical supervision. It was clear that Silva’s sister was trying to respond to Hirunika’s claims by publishing several pictures of her brother.

Speaking to our sister paper, the Daily News, after Dilini Silva’s response, Premachandra said she was glad that the former went on to publish the pictures of her brother’s surgery.

“There were doubts about his medical reports. Many people assumed that he would not be able to lead a normal life, after being shot in the head. That was why certain questions were raised about his health condition,” Premachandra said, commenting on the matter.

“On the other hand, there were questions about the conduct of the doctor who treated him. In that context, we had a doubt whether she concealed information,” she added.

“Therefore,” she said, “I am glad that Duminda Silva’s sister published the pictures of her brother’s brain surgery. It is a positive development. We can now ascertain the veracity of the reports before the country’s judiciary.”

Meanwhile, Duminda Silva’s lawyers were doing groundwork to file an appeal against the verdict. They will challenge the High Court’s verdict before the Court of Appeal and seek bail for the former Parliamentarian.

Weerawansa debacle

UPFA Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa ran into a trouble when he met the chief prelate of the Malwatte chapter, Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddartha Sumangala Thera, last week to discuss about the government’s plans for a new constitution.

Weerawansa, speaking to the Mahanayake Thera, said the new constitution was being drafted to fulfill the needs of separatist elements, including the Tamil National Alliance.

He also said, through the new constitution, the government was trying to allow foreign judges and prosecutors to examine into war crimes during the final phase of war.

He urged the Mahanayake Thera to intervene the government’s efforts to formulate a new constitution, dubbing it as a great threat to the country’s sovereignty.

It looked as if the Mahanayake Thera did not even take Weerawansa’s arguments seriously. “The new constitution has not been even drafted yet,” the Mahanayake Thera said, responding to Weerawansa’s allegations.

“The President and the Prime Minister have reassured, multiple times, that they would not cause any harm to the country by introducing a new constitution. So, what’s the point in panicking unnecessarily at this stage?” the Mahanayake Thera asked. His question, without doubt, put Weerawansa on the ‘back foot’.

“Apey Hamuduruwane, please look at this matter with an open mind. We are not trying to create an unnecessary fear over the new constitution,” Weerawansa told the Mahanayake Thera, in a desperate attempt to save face.

Mass grave

In his efforts to convince the prelate of the necessity to stop the current government from changing the Constitution to allow an enquiry into the final phase of the war, former MP Wimal Weerawansa inadvertently let slip the location of a mass grave his former bosses – former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa – used to bury bodies from the end of the war.

“For example,” the former MP told the devoutly attentive prelate, “a camp was moved out of Kilinochchi recently…Now that ground was what was used, during the end of the war, to bury the LTTE. Now there is the possibility they will dig up this area. The minute they dig it up they will find thousands of bodies. Who can prove if these are the bodies of LTTE cadres, or others?”

The former MP said that by moving people out of camps there was the danger that these mass graves would be unearthed and proof be gathered to support the accusation that war crimes were committed by the Rajapaksas at the final stages of the battle with the LTTE.

Weerawansa went on to add hype to the situation by telling the prelate, Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera, that should evidence be gathered from this grave to support the accusation that the Rajapaksas committed war crimes, it would be enough to have the North separated from the rest of the island – “Much like Serbia and Kosovo.”

“Under the current constitution there is provision for war crimes,” he said.

“But it is not applicable to the past. What they are doing is changing the Constitution to allow war crimes to be tried on events from the past,” before telling the prelate that he was presenting ‘true facts’ and would in no way ‘even dream of lying.”

However, the Mahanayake Thera did not seem convinced and the entire exercise bounced back on Weerawansa and his supporters.

Undeterred by the incident, Weearawansa’s party is now preparing to hold seminars across the country to make the public aware of the government’s new constitution.