The Catholic Church is aggrieved. So too, by extension at least, the flock. So too all Sri Lankans appalled by the multiple acts of terrorism carried out by Islamic fundamentalists on Easter Sunday 2019. Those who want here-and-now justice are aggrieved, they say, because those responsible (apart from the NTJ terrorists who blew themselves up on that day) haven’t been found guilty yet. ‘Yet’ is important because it does not rule out that the guilty will not be identified and duly punished. Justice is not a finger-snap issue. Trials take time. Well, unless we want street-‘justice’ of the kind we saw the UNP and JVP indulge in in the late nineteen eighties or the brand perfected by the LTTE and of course the NTJ.
Anyway, not everyone is conversant with the small print of judicial processes. For example, some talk of reports of various investigative bodies including presidential commissions not being made public. Such entities are typically supportive of judicial processes but do now possess prosecuting power. Moreover, unlike in the courts, those who make submissions are not sworn testimonies. Names are mentioned. Allegations made. Proof offered, however, has to be examined by courts. Until then, ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ should be affirmed. Kangaroo Court advocates don’t have to care about fallout. The courts cannot be that frivolous.
Kangaroos can jump around and that they do. A few months ago, in October 2001 to be exact, one such outfit of jumpers organized a webinar. The Global Forum for Justice for the Easter Sunday Victims (GFJES), grandiose and self-congratulatory as the name suggests, in fact put both metaphoric feet into their collective mouth. One individual, clearly carried away by ‘glory moment’ mentioned a name along with all kinds of tired mastermind-rhetoric. The ‘named’ made a complaint. The claimant backed off and, hiding behind cassock and church, whined about how vile it is for accusations to be leveled at victims.
Now no one has accused this small-minded priest with pernicious objectives of being the mastermind of the Easter Sunday Victims. He was merely asked to substantiate his claim. His victimhood on account of being a priest and a member of the religious community targeted by the terrorists is of no relevance to this issue. Maybe the GFJES learnt a lesson.
This time around, i.e. a few days ago, at a second webinar organized by the GFJES there was no talk of a mahamolakaru (mastermind). Claims and allegations abound, though. Par for the course, of course.
It’s all dodgy and, as one would expect, placed in the bleeding heart frame of ‘justice for the Easter Sunday Victims.’ Apparently the President had informed the Cardinal that recommendations contained in the report submitted by the Commission of Inquiry will ‘cannot be implemented.’ Well, on the face of it, the President doesn’t have a mandate to implement such recommendations. Commissions can recommend the sun, moon and the entire planetary system amid lots of ‘doable’ things. The procedure is for an examination of report and recommendation by relevant authorities, in this instance the Attorney General’s Department. Prosecution comes thereafter and that process is never of the here-and-now kind. Arrests have been made, the arrested have been questioned, some set free, some enlarged on bail and indictments served. That’s due process. The term implies the opposite, ‘undue process,’ which is what the GFJES seems to be demanding. Anything that doesn’t fall into their wish-list of how the justice system ought to work is ‘suspicious.’ Anyone can be suspicious whether suspicion is warranted or not. Taint it with pernicious objectives and we get the answer. Unwarranted, misleading and politically motivated.
It is hilarious that in the nutshell version of the webinar that’s being circulated in social media the GFJES has seen fit to essentially exonerate members and backers of the NTJ. Instead they go on and on and on about former President Maithripala Sirisena who, by the way, they’ve not named as a mahamolakaru (mastermind) or a kudaa-molakaru (small brained). Sirisena’s ‘crime’ is one of omission and that’s obvious. Whether this warrants incarceration is a matter for the courts to decide. In any event he is, at worst, as accessory after the fact of murder.
Interestingly, the man and party claimed by themselves and backers as the true movers and shakers of the Yahapalana government, namely Ranil Wickremesinghe and the United National Party, are left out of the GFJES story. The entire nutshell-version and by implication the webinazi operation is one of whitewashing pro-UNP individuals implicated in the affair (like Sirisena on account of gross negligence) and casting aspersions on those they believe are loyal to the current government. No mention, for example, of the Secretary, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and former Minister of Public Administration and Management and Law and Order (during the time of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government, Ranjith Maddumabandara who had been informed about the activities of Zahran and the NTJ by the then Director of the SIS who recommended that a special unit of the Police be deployed to arrest him. This was long before Sirisena is claimed to have been informed. Maddumabandara did nothing. This was way back in 2018 (May 19 to be exact). Maddumabandara did nothing. The GFJES has no eyes for such gross negligence.
The selectivity tells a story. It tells us that the GFJES as an outfit and all those involved in its activities are not interested in justice or truth. It’s a charade. It’s just a front used to further a crass political project. It is an insult to those who were injured and those who lost loved ones. It is all about creating a narrative which could at best derail processes which are in place to obtain truth and deliver justice. Red herrings are for blurring. The opaque makes for fairy-tales and footnoting of truth. These GFJES wallahs seem to be developing quite a portfolio in this business.
As mentioned, in October 2021 it was the bogey about a ‘mahamolakaru’ and today, in January 2022, it is about someone who was negligent in taking steps to prevent a terrorist attack. What are we left with? Well, the terrorists are out of the GFJES frame. There are no masterminds any more. No terrorists. No NTJ. No Islamic Fundamentalists. It’s as though Maithripala Sirisena looked the other way and bombs unleashed by an errant god rained from the heavens!
All conspiracy theorists need to move over: the GFJES and the nadagamkarayo who make up its numbers have hoofed them all out. Amen.
by Malinda Seneviratne
firstname.lastname@example.org. www.malindawords.blogspot.com[Malinda Seneviratane is the Director/CEO of the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute. These are his personal views.]