Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the governments and people. In every single day, thousands of people die because of this illness. Nowadays, the countries called as “Superpower “are also confused. The same is for Srilanka. Nowadays, Srilanka is becoming as one of the heavily affected countries in the South Asia (compared to the population). In this respect, though globally and locally lots and lots of people keep dying, the Srilankan government is embarking some of the strategic programs with the strong grip of its Buddhist supremacist ideology. The Buddhist ideology has been used as a powerful tool of repression against the minority groups in Srilanka over the time. In every five years, the governments have done some changes in its programs. But, it never failed to emphasis the domination of the Buddhist Mahawamsa. The Rajapaksha family which won and captured the government with the Sinhala people’s votes only, in 2020 election, again and again, reiterated that they never ever would give up the ideology of Buddhism. Finally, they have got the expected result in the election because of their policy and words.
This is the main reason why Rajapaksha brothers are brave enough to impose the programs which pay attention on Buddhism rather than giving importance to preserve the country against this global pandemic. For keep improving that ideology, a few days before, the president of Srilanka what has shockingly done is, releasing a brutal murderer ‘an army commander Sunil Rajapaksha’ who has brutally killed eight Tamil unarmed civilians at Mirusuvil, Jaffna.
During the 2000s, when the war was going on between the Srilankan state forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, Eluthumattuval and Nakarkovil villages were empty zone as the frontline of both parties had been set up behind the borders of these areas. So, people who lived in these villages and were close to this dangerous area, displaced and relocated to welfare centers or to their relative’s homes which were located in other parts of Jaffna. In this respect, a group of people who lived in Mirusuvil, had moved to a village called ‘Navalarmadam’ at point Pedro, Jaffna. In this difficult time, people used to go to their hometowns with or without permission from the military for collecting some basic things such as coconuts, vegetables and some other products which can help them to make food.
Once, a few men have gone to their hometown, they felt a very bad stink was coming from their place. Then, one of their family members was very brave and started to follow the smell and found a pair of slippers near to a semi-enclosed pit in the area. He secretly started to dig the pit deeply and very soon found a dead body of a young lady which was in very bad condition. He was extremely shocked and frightened, immediately got back and reported to their nearest Army camp. The military forces took his details and had sent him back by claiming that ‘it was the body of a person who died in a bomb attack which was done by the LTTE and then we have buried it’.
He was not satisfied with the answer and strongly felt something has gone wrong. Suspicious with the military, he came back to his temporary home and told the neighbors about the whole incident. Following his words, on 19th – December- 2000, some people went to Mirusuvil (the village where the body was found) to identify the body of a woman who was killed and buried.
Unfortunately that day some of the Srilankan soldiers were there and secretly monitoring what the men are doing. The people, who had come to identify the body, were silently grabbing coconuts and picking grapefruits in their vegetable farms before to move towards the semi-enclosed pit where the dead body was found. Suddenly, the military persons appeared in front of them and got arrested all of them within a minute. The soldiers began to torture them, forcefully stripped their clothes and tied their eyes and hands tightly. Then, everyone was thrown beyond a barbed-wire fence. One of them -‘Makeswaran’ felt the fact that all of them were going to be assassinated by those Srilankan soldiers. Immediately he escaped from there, using the correct time when he was thrown over the fence. As he knew, the truth was, rests of them were killed by the military on the spot.
The huge attention was paid on this incident when he went to the Manthikai hospital to get treatments for his injuries. He told the police men who were doing the official investigating regarding this issue that ‘he can identify the soldiers who murdered the unarmed civilians in Mirusuvil’.
Following his testimony, five soldiers (including Sunil Ratnayake) were identified as murderers. In the preliminary investigation, they claimed that, ‘’we were new to Jaffna who had come from Vanni’ and ”yes, we mistakenly shot the eight, because, we thought that they were LTTE”. The army further said that, ‘‘we did not try to catch and shoot the person who had escaped from them because if the sound would reach their commander then, it will create problems for us’.
The investigation was completed on the 25th of June 2015. The Colombo High Court, which handed down its final verdict, said that, “four of the five accused soldiers had not been convicted of crimes against them. But, the charges against the Sunil Ratnayake had been proved enough and he would be executed”.
A positive wave from the international community.
Nearly 15 years later, the verdict of ruling Mahinda – Ranil coalition has risen internationally. The particular verdict was looked as, the very best example by many international bodies, on the internal mechanism for investigations against the Human Rights Violations in Srilanka, put forward by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jeyamanna, who is in the government’s position said that this verdict has proved that there, is a strong judicial framework in Srilanka, to investigate an allegation level against the Srilankan military. This was most welcomed by the international community and also looked as the Srilanka judicial system has expressed confidence.
Now, in the gap of five years period, again Rajapakshas have resorted using the judiciary for their political benefits. All judicial matters that are beneficial to their politics have begun to change. Now, the international community gives some concern and condemnations just for an attention, nothing else.
“The government’s arbitrary decision to release a brutal murderer Sunil Ratnayake is very disturbing news, as accountability for Human Rights Violation in Srilanka rarely revealed. This means that Military criminals who commit very brutal crimes will be pardoned and shortly released, even if convicted in Court” says AMNESTY.
The unsown third face of Srilanka.
AMNESTY’s status to Srilanka’s judiciary is very relevant to the current situation. There are a lot of evidences here to prove it. In Kirushanthy’s murder case, though the soldiers were caught and executed, later on they were slowly acquitted from various circumstances. In the Kumarapuram massacre case, the criminals (soldiers) were caught by people and handed over to the court. Later on, they were released through the same judiciary mechanism. Likewise, the military who was involved in the five Eastern University students massacre in Trincomalee also released. All the incidents clearly mean that the judiciary of Srilanka cannot prosecute the military for crimes against minority Tamils. Even, the judiciary imposes the death penalty for a guilty soldier; they are shown as a national hero or war hero and then released by the president of this country. On the other hand, it saws a truth that, not only the power of the president is beyond the law and order, but his army also. This is further reinforced by the fact that the military has been released by the judiciary from all of the above assassinations.
Dr. Mahendran Thirurangan – English lecturer- University of Jaffna, said to the ‘Maatram’ website regarding this matter: I think that the fact that the military had committed various war crimes during the civil war in Srilanka has been revealed through reports from various local and international human rights organizations. But, just one or two times only the Tamil people have got justice through this judicial framework. As far as I am aware, only the Mirusuvil case and the Kirushanthy’s case were convicted by the Srilankan judiciary. Today, the president of this country has given a special attention and released Sunil Ratnayake, the Mirusuvil murderer under his presidential pardon. This incident would further disturb the Tamils, who have already lost their confidence in the judiciary and administration of the country.
While the whole world is fighting against this global pandemic, releasing a brutal murderer without proper legal advice is a very worst anti-democratic act. So, from my point of view, these types of actions will further drive the Tamil community towards the international justice system. For me, the decision which was taken by the president of Srilanka, is an action to emphasize or built the Buddhist nationalism in the first place for his political benefits. In a democratic country, this is not acceptable ‘denying the justice for minorities and the vulnerable’. If you see the history, during the 1989 insurrections and Rathubaswele protest, you can understand how much the weaker sections were affected. So, the silence of Sinhala people on this decision or what they consider a victory for them, one day can become a process of militarization and state violence, even for them also. That is why; it is a duty of a normal citizen of this country to raise their voice against such these decisions.
Need an International Mechanism.
Therefore, it is not possible to control the crimes and human rights violations of the army in the future. Unless there is a proper judicial system, the number of crimes would not fall down. The fear of court would not exist. The Srilankan Sinhala majority politics and the judicial system will keep providing the impression “National hero” or “War Hero” to the criminals who did any crimes to the minority Tamils. Then, How can they be punished when the situation is so..? How can the affected Tamil expect justice from them..? That is the main reason, why now the international investigation mechanism is strongly needed for the minority of this country.
Translated by: Mugilnila