Following is a statement issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge yesterday.
Today, January 8, is the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge. Lasantha Wickrematunge was one of the best known journalists and the Editor of The Sunday Leader, a newspaper critical of the Government. Despite the enormous publicity generated by this broad daylight assassination both locally and internationally, the Government has refused to conduct any credible investigation into this murder.
The belief in political circles as well as those who were close to Lasantha is that this was a murder carried out with the full knowledge of the Government and that senior Government figures were involved.
That also explains the failure of the investigation.
A few days before this anniversary, the Pradeshiya Sabha member of Kelaniya Hasitha Madawala was assassinated. His close associates are accusing the Member of Parliament for Kelaniya, a Government Minister, Mervyn Silva of involvement in this murder. He has however, publically denied the allegations. Madawala’s assassination, like that of Lasantha’s took place in plain sight of several witnesses and the killer who arrived on a motorcycle fired several rounds into the air before fleeing.
Meanwhile, there is heavy Police and paramilitary presence in the Kelaniya electoral area as there is serious unrest among the people regarding this murder. The associates of the deceased are reported to have said that the heavy Police presence is to protect those who are suspected of taking place in the assassination. Those being protected by a large number of Policemen include some well known criminal and underground elements.
Also, at the time of this fourth anniversary, the Government is involved the deepest crisis it has ever faced in terms of the impeachment move against the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, who is also now treated an enemy of the Government. The Government is carrying on a widespread propaganda campaign by the State media and by the pasting of posters containing comments derogatory of the Chief Justice.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and the Court of Appeal have announced their judgements which declare the impeachment process as unconstitutional and illegal. The Court of Appeal in fact, quashed the appointment, proceedings and decisions of the Parliamentary Select Committee which dealt with the impeachment.
Thus, by the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the repression by the Government has turned inwards, creating victims from among its own active politicians as well as senior figures of the Government itself. The violence is imploding and the tension is mounting rapidly.
The Government has no capacity or will to end the violence and to create stability and peace in the country. The process of violence reflected by the assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge and also the enormous violence that continues to take place in the north and east has made Sri Lanka perhaps one of the most violent places in South Asia.