by Shamindra Ferdinando
Civil society grouping Left Centre supportive of the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition yesterday lambasted the administration for its failure to bring those responsible for the wartime assassination of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Nadarajah Raviraj to justice.
An unidentified gunman shot dead MP Raviraj in Colombo in Nov, 2006.
Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana, Saman Ratnapriya, Chameera Perera and Anura Bandara Rajaguru alleged that a spate of high profile crimes hadn’t been resolved so far.
Ratnapriya cited TULF MP Joseph Pararajasingham’s (Dec, 2005) assassination, disappearance of media person Prageeth Ekneligoda (January, 2010), killing of Wasim Thajudeen (May 2012), killing of Dharmaratnam Sivaram aka journalist ‘Taraki’ (April 2005) and other journalists as the major cases which needed to be probed and the perpetrators produced in court.
The Left Centre warned the government of catastrophic consequences unless perpetrators of heinous crimes were arrested without further delay. It urged the government to take tangible measures as promised to the international community after having gained power in Jan. 2015.
When The Island pointed out that the Left Centre and like-minded organizations had been always selective in making their demands for investigations and were silent about atrocities committed by the LTTE, such as the assassination of UNP MP T. Meheswaran (January, 2008) whose wife Vijayakala (UNP, Jaffna District MP) recently declared that Velupillai Prabhakaran was even suitable to be Sri Lanka’s premier, Ratnapriya acknowledged that all incidents should be probed. They alleged that successive governments had exploited the war and the insurgency to eliminate people. JVP leader Rohana Wijweeera’s killing, too, should be probed.
Asked by The Island whether the TNA should be held accountable for atrocities committed by the LTTE as the former recognised Prabhakarana as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people in the run-up to Eelam War IV, Ratnapriya urged that the TNA’s stand be examined against the backdrop of LTTE terrorism directed at Tamil political parties. Had the TNA declined to accept the LTTE, it wouldn’t have been allowed to engage in politics, Ratnapriya said, comparing the TNA’s politics with that of the JVP entering parliament following two insurgencies.
Ratnapriya and Perera said that slain MP Raviraj had been a moderate who addressed contentious national issues in Tamil. They accused President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera of failing to deliver on promises made to the electorate, as well as to the international community.
Those who had been strongly opposed to the setting up of OMP (Office of Missing Persons) in accordance with the Geneva resolution hadn’t taken into consideration the repercussions of Sri Lanka’s continuing failure to address accountability issues. The government lacked the political will to prove that it could successfully address accountability issues through a domestics judicial mechanism. Having campaigned on a platform of accountability and good governance, the yahapalana rulers couldn’t further delay in addressing contentious issues, Ratnapriya said.
Ratnapriya said that President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe were yet to make up their minds to allocate special courts to hear major cases though a group of 16 ministers recently submitted appealed to them. Underscoring the importance of special courts to accelerate the judicial process, Ratnapriya said that for want of cohesive strategy the government had exposed its dismal failure to address long standing issues.
Left Centre spokesmen pointed out that in the wake Colombo High Court judge Sarath Ambepitiya’s assassination in Nov 2005, the then government and the judiciary moved swiftly to bring the case to a successful conclusion within eight months.
Chameera Perera said that the people had a right to know the perpetrators of killings during the Rajapaksa administration. Perera accused Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, of protecting the wrongdoers, including former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Perera condemned Minister Rajapaksa for being pally with two Buddhist monks responsible for causing mayhem. Perhaps, Minister Rajapaksa should give up justice portfolio and retrain only Buddha Sasana, Perera advised.