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Interviews


Govt aware of the killings and the abductions: Mano Ganesan

Colombo district parliamentarian and convener of the Civil Monitoring Commission of Sri Lanka (CMCSL) Mano Ganesan holds the Government responsible for the series of extrajudicial killings and abductions taking place on a daily basis. Ganesan believes that the Government is aware of all the killings and especially, of the abductions, though it denies vehemently.
Following are excerpts of a brief interview Mr Ganesan had with The Nation:
Q: The present trend seems to be escalating. How do you see this?
A: Definitely, the trend is very dangerous. I could simply draw a parallel to the 88/89 period. The only difference is that today’s abductions take place in broad daylight in the city of Colombo too, while the abductions in 88/89 took place in the night. The culture of impunity is not new to Sri Lanka but what is unfortunate is that it continues unabated. During the 88/89 period, the poor and innocent Sinhala youths were spending their nights in the forests. But now, the Tamil people are being picked up in the daytime, itself and that too within the city of Colombo. The trend is more dangerous than those days.
Q: Are there, in your view, any steps taken by President Rajapaksa to arrest this situation?
A: No. I am shocked and extremely disappointed. Those days, it was President Mahinda Rajapaksa who fought against Human Rights violations. But unfortunately, at present, similar things are happening under his very nose. Those days, he was the champion of Human Rights but now we want to ask the same champion to act fast to put an immediate stop to this menace. He even went to Geneva, to report on the Human Rights violations. But now he is silent. We want to know why.
Q: What course of action do you intend taking now?
A: We want to take up this issue with the international community. We are also prepared for any discussion, whether for all out war or restricted war. We are ready to discuss power sharing, whether it is federalism, confederalism or the Indian model.
This is what we call democratic discussion. There can’t be any discussion or difference of opinion in respect of Human Rights and dignity. That is national and universal. There can’t be any justification for extra legal abductions and killings. This has to stop. The Government has to stop this.
Q: Who do you hold responsible for this?
A: I, with all responsibility, accuse the Government, and hold the Government responsible for all these abductions and killings. We, as legislators, make laws. We have the emergency regulation and the PTA. Now, why do we make laws against the already existing ones? This is to give additional powers to the police and Government forces to arrest and curb terrorism. Already, in the existing laws, there are provisions to curb this type of thing. But yet, we make laws at the cost of public money, to expedite this process. But when the police and armed forces go out of this law and act according to their whims and fancies, then, there is no need to pass legislation in Parliament.
Q: The Government, unofficially says that this type of situation is inevitable when the country faces a terrorist problem. How do you view this?
A: Yes, we know it. But this Government is acting worse than a terrorist group. A legitimate government can’t act like a terrorist outfit. Those in the hierarchy of the government should know the difference between an abduction and an arrest. Arrest is legal. That is, a person is picked by the police and kept in a legally identified location. And in addition, the police are obliged to give all the information about the arrest to the family of the arrested. But what happens in an abduction? The police and the forces are taking the people to unidentified locations. We are against unlawful arrest. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella should not play with the peoples’ tears. The Government says there are no abductions. But we have documented the abductions. We have all the details of the abductions.
Q: The latest reports indicate that the five men killed, belong to Karuna’s group and fingers are being pointed at the LTTE as well. So, how can one completely blame the Government?
A: Whether it is Karuna’s men or not, people are being abducted and killed. They are, after all, people of our nation. And it is the Government that should answer for those killings as well. Nobody has any right to touch another individual’s life. Killings in this country are done for two reasons. One political and the other economic. Political killings are committed to achieve a particular target by the government, while at the same time, abductions are also taking place to enhance one’s wealth. Yesterday’s pocket picker is today’s housebreaker. The abductors demand large amounts of money from family members of those wealthy abducted businessmen. This is for their personal economic reasons. This nonsense should stop forthwith.

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Situation unacceptable: Minister Samarasinghe

Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights says that he and the Government are concerned about the current wave of atrocities which are simply unacceptable.
“These abductions and killings cannot go on. We have to get to the bottom of this, since it gives a very negative image of the Government and what is happening in Sri Lanka. As the Minister of Human Rights, I don’t condone this” he said.
Samarasinghe says that there might be a hidden force operating to tarnish the Government’s image through these killings.
“Now we believe that there might be a hidden hand behind these atrocities to embarrass the Government. We are carrying out investigations into this possibility. Those who point the finger at the Government should realise that the Government is not foolish to commit such crimes, especially at this point in time”.
Minister Samarasinghe says that Human Rights Council interest groups have been informed of the progress by the investigations. “The police are also taking this seriously. I know that the President is also very concerned about this. We are confident that we will be able to get to the bottom of this” he added.