Will justice be achieved regarding Eknaligoda ?

Published : 12:01 am  October 30, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (149) reads | 

 

 

  • If the President is making such a statement, then internal problems should be solved expediently without trying to protect the army from its wrongdoings
  • The 2015 Government was appointed for the reason that they will right the wrongs and injustice done by the past government

 

Prageeth Eknaligoda was a revolutionary journalist, who through his writings and caricatures denounced the previous Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On January 24, 2010, he left his office, interestingly two days before Presidential polls, saying that he has to meet an old friend and had not been seen since then. With no doubt about it, Prageeth’s wife and family to this date believe that he was abducted, taken to the Girithale Army Camp, tortured and killed under instructions of the Rajapaksa family. Eknaligoda had been investigating the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians by the Army in the fight against the LTTE.


With the election of President Sirisena, investigations reopened and from time to time different suspects have been taken into custody. However at a press conference held recently, Mrs. Eknaligoda, expressed her disappointment over the lack of support of the present Government to the ongoing investigations by the CID alleging that the Government is not living up to the promise made when they assumed power. She is also not happy with their commitment towards bringing to justice the perpetrators of national crimes. Although she has been fighting for justice regarding her husband for more than 8 years now, the determination in her face showed that she is at no point ready to give up. It was a blend of sorrow, resentment and repugnance that was conveyed through her voice as she related her story to us. She claims to have approached both the President and the Army Commander pleading for their support to conclude Prageeth’s investigations, but said that the Army intelligence is withholding crucial information and data needed to carry out investigations and facilitate the court procedure. She mentioned how the information 

requested are easily retrievable – CCTV footage of entrance and exit from the Girithale army camp; information on telephone calls. According to Mrs. Ekneligoda, although the CID has been requesting for this data from the Army intelligence since 2016, all they received were excuses; at one point the information was unavailable and at another point their disclosure would threaten national security. 

 

Although our soldiers who fought the civil war are indeed heroes, that does not empower them to kill the innocent


 “Recently, the President at the 73rd United nations general Assembly talked about the independence of Sri Lanka and asked the UN and member states not to pressure Sri Lanka in dealing with war crimes. If the President is making such a statement, then internal problems should be solved expediently without trying to protect the army from its wrongdoings” 


Pidurangala incident


Chameera Perera, Convener of the Left Centre, expressed his views, reminding the Government of the reason it was appointed in the first place. He drew on the incident where the Prime Minister reacted immediately to the Pidurangala incident where 16-year-old boys were misbehaving and ordered that rigorous punishment be imposed on them to show how fast the executive is capable of responding to a situation. However, although 3 ½ years have passed since Prageeth’s abduction, the activist stated that there has been little to no support from the executive to speedup investigations. “The 2015 Government was appointed for the reason that they will right the wrongs and injustice done by the past government. That was the sole reason that they came into power. Yet, what the Government does is hide behind the need to uphold the reputation of the army. The best way the Government can show honour to the army is by fulfilling its responsibility.”


Racism 


Sudesh Nandimal Silva, a key eyewitness of the 2012 Welikada riots and activist of prisoners’ rights spoke of how the disappearance of Prageeth are connected to other national issues embedded in society, like racism. As he claims, Prageeth Ekneligoda, being an anti-racist and true portrayer of the pressure and terror under which citizens in the North lived during the war is what gave the then government motive to abduct and kill him. “If you are against racism, people will call you ‘Sinhala Kotiya’. The present government only pumps oxygen to racism in this country”.  


As indicated by him, another national issue that the Government allegedly refuses to confront is the violation of rules of war by the state forces. He pointed out that although our soldiers who fought the civil war are indeed heroes, that does not empower them to kill the innocent. “Defending army officers who abuse their power is the best possible way the Government can disrespect the army. Protecting the Rajapaksas and diverting people’s attention to petty things is not the way out.”


Threats to journos 


Joseph Stalin from the Ceylon Teachers’ Union recalled Minister Sagala Rathnayake’s statement that 126 journalists in Sri Lanka have reportedly received threats up to now and expressed his disappointment that only 5 investigations that are happening. “The fact that only 5 investigations are going on means that 121 other journalists are at risk. It is time that the Government stops hiding files and obstructing investigations on Prageeth, because we know they are only trying to escape the law.”


The disappearance of Eknaligoda is not a single problem that affects his family and cannot be taken in isolation as affecting a few people only. It impinges upon many other social and political realities that underlie how our country and Government functions. It is vital that everyone be subjected to the ordinary law of the country and perpetrators of national crimes be actively sought if there is to be any people are to vest any confidence in the justice system. Despite what result an investigation might bring, everyone is entitled to a fair procedure, and after all, isn’t that what good governance is all about? 

 

 

Although the Daily Mirror sought to obtain a response from the Army regarding this matter, all our attempts failed.