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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Wimal Weerawansa’s White Van Freedom – Ranga Kalansuriya

Wimal Weerawansa has warned that we are now ‘losing our hard-earned freedom’. In a public rally held in Kandy on Friday to campaign for the prime-ministerial candidacy of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Rajapaksa confidante asked people to get behind the ex-president to win their freedom back.

I have been wondering as to what ‘freedom’ Mr. Weerawansa has been talking about.

Finally, I managed to jot down some of those potential ‘freedoms’ he could have meant.
Of course, there may be omissions and Mr Weerawansa is welcomed to let me know anything that is missing.

There was ‘freedom’ of abduction and extra-judicial killings under the previous regime. Some disturbing details of white van abductions in the past are now being revealed.

An abduction ring that operated under a special operation unit of the Navy is now being investigated.

According to sources close to the investigation, this unit has abducted rich Tamils who were planning to go abroad.

An employee of a travel agency has tipped off the members of the unit about the wealthy Tamil young men and women based on financial information they provided in their visa applications. The unit then abducted young men and demanded ransom for their release.

Without the change in the government, those killers would never have been brought to justice. One should wonder why the CID took nearly five years to reveal the results of the investigation. The habeas corpus of Rajeev Naganathan, one of the victims was filed in court in 2011.

Powers that be in the defence ministry did not want the culpability of its men on those abductions be made known to the public, for that it would besmirch the Navy’s image. Much was at stake since the first suspect, who has now admitted abducting 28 youth, and evidence for 11 of which have been found, happened to be the former personal security officer of the then Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoada.

Weerawansa in his twisted mind thinks that is freedom. We call it impunity, which Sri Lanka had in abundance under the previous regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabaya.

There was also ‘freedom’ to massacre. The alleged summary execution of inmates after the prison riot in Welikada two years back is now being investigated.

There were well substantiated reports then that some inmates were picked from their cells by the STF and were summarily executed after the prison riot in November 2012.

Now the new government has ordered a fresh investigation into the circumstances of the death of 27 inmates, who were killed during and after the riot.

There were other lesser ‘freedoms’ such as regular custodial deaths (in many cases, suspects jumped into rivers with their handcuffs on) and custodial torture that was prevalent during the previous regime


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