Ahimsa Wickrematunge, daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, in a public letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for the selection of an “honest and courageous” presidential candidate to run
against Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) contender Gotabaya Rajapaksa, warning that failure to do so will deprive victims of their opportunity for justice.
Referring to a speech made by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on Monday where he questioned whether Rajapaksa has apologised for the murder of Wickrematunge, Ahimsa Wickrematunge pointed out that not only was an apology unlikely but insisted Wickremesinghe was responsible for protecting Rajapaksa over the last four and a half years.
“Let me put your mind at ease. No. Gotabaya Rajapaksa will never apologise for my father’s murder. In television interviews over the last 10 years, he has made no secret of the fact that he was proud of it. He has made up his mind not to apologise. But have you, Prime Minister? Will you apologise for spending the last four and a half years protecting with the man you today call a mass murderer?”
“From the day my father died, you have invoked his name to win votes. My father’s murder was a prop in the 2015 presidential and parliamentary election campaigns that made you Prime Minister. You brought President Sirisena to power and won control of Parliament for the UNP, all by promising justice for my father’s murder,” the letter added.
Ahimsa Wickrematunge went onto recap what she termed as the gross negligence and delays in bringing key cases to justice even though top officials of the UNP were in positions of Government crucial to ensuring investigations were completed, charges filed before court and judicial proceedings completed in a timely manner. She touched on journalist Pradeep Eknaligoda’s disappearance, the attack on Editor Upali Tennakoon and questioned by investigative officers were not supported during their duties. She also highlighted the delays in MiG deal investigations and pointed out that it was a critical part of understanding the motives behind her father’s death.
“Where were you, Prime Minister, when the Army and intelligence services refused to cooperate with the investigation? What did you do when you were told a critical informant against Gotabaya Rajapaksa needed protection? And when my father’s lead murder investigator, Inspector Nishantha Silva, was kicked out of the CID by the President, why did you not lift a finger in protest?”
“For months now, your Attorney-General has been forcibly shutting down investigations involving Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Tripoli death squad, covering up their involvement and pressing charges against foot soldiers. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was let off the hook in the Eknaligoda case despite two officers confessing that he personally ordered the abduction. Rajapaksa has not even been questioned about these sworn confessions. Even though Upali Tennakoon was attacked using four motorbikes, only two junior soldiers are being charged. Rajapaksa and the Tripoli team got off scot free. Will you do anything meaningful to seek accountability?” she charged.
Ahimsa Wickrematunge also insisted that unless Wickremesinghe selects a candidate who can champion democracy and rule of law, justice for her and others like her will remain unlikely.
“There is but one last hope for me and the other survivors and victims of white van era brutality. Gotabaya Rajapaksa must be challenged and defeated by a contender who is committed to delivering justice when in Government, and not by someone who exploits victims to win elections and thereafter entertains people he calls murderers at his official residence.”
“Simply put, if this country remains at your mercy and at the mercy of your new friend, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, then there is no hope that your old friend, my father Lasantha Wickrematunge, will ever receive justice.”